There’s an art to colorless photography. If you’re a fan, you already know. If you’re just starting to show an interest in black and white photography, you may be wondering how to take a good picture with no color. There are a few tips and tricks to this art form that will help you get started.
Black and White Photography Tips for Beginners
1. Duel Shots
Make sure your camera is set to take photographs in both RAW and JPG format. It’s easier to edit a RAW file. You can easily remove all the color information, leaving you with a black and white image. Some cameras have the option to show you what the image is going to look like in black and white. There is usually a digital screen that allows you to preview the image. You can toggle on shooting in black and white, and hover over the image you want to take. It gives you a good idea. Most cameras have the option to even take the picture in black and white. It makes the editing process a little easier if you shoot in color, then turn the picture black and white. Let’s consider this: You can always take the color out of a photo, but you can’t put the color back in.
2. Contrast, Shape, Texture
The removal of color also removes certain identifying features of what you’re shooting. When you’re taking photographs in color, there are certain shades that catch the eye. For example, a brightly colored dress will draw immediate attention. In black and white images, it’s a little harder to grab the attention. This is because of the flat colors. So you have to work with contrasting. First, you’re going to want to observe the brightness. You may notice that different objects in your photograph are flat. They don’t stand out. Now, you’re going to want to mess around with the contrast setting. Through this process, you’ll be able to make different objects in the photograph stand out. Some cameras allow you to adjust the exposure settings. Otherwise, you’ll have to use a photo editing program to accomplish this. You’ll want to watch for tonal contrasting. This will help you determine what objects you can make really stand out from other ones. After all, you should be aware what makes a good black and white photograph!
3. Long Exposure
If you want to be better at black and white photography, it’s common to use a long exposure for your photographs. Especially if what you’re photographing is transparent in any way (like clouds or water). A prolonged exposure will increase the highlights. This will you get a better quality image. You have to have some concern about the movement of the object you’re photographing as well. There are camera add ons that can extend the shutter speed of your camera. A tripod is a good method to stabilizing your photographs as well. It will help keep the camera still, and limit the amount of blurring.
Graduated neutral density filters are common, because they manipulate image contrast. Polarizing filters are a good choice as well. Both are quite useful in black and white photography. The neutral density filter is useful if what you’re photographing is bright (like the sky), or has a reflection (like water, or a mirror). This filter can reduce these reflections. They can even boost the contrast setting. You can always try taking a few different images of the same thing with different exposure settings. There are also color filters, which can add different elements to the photos. They work by darkening certain objects in your photograph, and brightening others. We’ll make two examples: An orange filter will darken the blue sky. A green filter will lighten foliage. If you’re working with any of these filters for the first time, it’s best to play around and see what works the best for you. It’s also more common to use all the coloring techniques when you get to the image processing.
There are a few different image editing programs. The most common one is Adobe Photoshop, but there are many other ones that have similar features. The program you use to edit your images really depends on your personal preference. You obviously want to pick and use a program you’re comfortable with. One you understand. But, don’t limit yourself to only what you know. Play with some of the features. See what different settings may offer your image. In Photoshop, I often use the “Curve” adjustment to enhance black and white photographs. It’s an automatic adjustment of the color levels that can really make your image stand out. You can also adjust these colors manually by using the Levels tool if you want to. Enhance each feature as you see fit for your ideal image. There are two other tools that every black and white photographer should become accustomed to. These are the Dodge and Burn tools. They are replicates of using a dark room. They can significantly enhance the tone of your image if you know how to use them properly. There are tutorials on YouTube if you want a walk through. But when it comes to your photo editing software, the best thing you can do is explore your options and see what ideas work best for you.
Finally, you just have to keep trying until you get better. You will eventually get to know about the best things to photograph in black and white and what are the best subjects for black and white photography. If you have any more tips and lessons to add to this, do let us know in the comment section below.