A lot of us look at black and white photos as a source of tranquility – a calm and distant look into the past while the world around us constantly shifts and changes. In fact, it’s not just viewers that love black and white photos, some photographers find solace in taking black and white photos. If you’re looking into starting photography, or if you’re looking to develop your talents in photography, then black and white photography can do the trick for your skill development. Taking black and white photos isn’t an easy feat, much more so if you want to take good ones.
Some people say the appeal in black and white lies in the timeless quality they offer photographs, and that this option provides an entirely new creative perspective to photographers who want to go “beyond” shooting in color. Other “reasons” may include:
- After all, black and white photos don’t necessarily distract viewers from so many colors, which provides the photographer ample time and opportunity to help viewers focus on particular elements in a photograph.
- Lighting and emotion also get emphasized, especially if you use negative space differently. This allows photographers to experiment with lighting, as black and white photos appear differently given the lighting provided in the background. While in color, some photos may appear dimmer or brighter, black and white photos with the same lighting can have totally different appearances courtesy of lighting.
Here are things you should DO in order to take better black and white photos:
- Do apply texture and patterns to your work. Just because your photo is black and white doesn’t necessarily mean it’s plain and boring. Patterns and texture appeal to the eyes, even if it’s a black and white photo. Finding a means to achieve and apply this illusion of texture and patterns can make your photo instantly appealing to others.
- Do remember contrast. Properly combining bright light and dark shades can help bring out details to your subject. Try playing around with light sources during the shoot and during post-processing. Try to see which details you want accentuated and how you want to go about doing this.
- Do take test shots and practice. Black and white photos aren’t easy to execute on the spot. If you’re preparing for a big shoot or a special event, try to go to the venue or try to go to a similar event to do practice shots. The more you do practice shots, the likelier for you to see the kind of shots you want to execute.
- Do take into account solids. In terms of colors, black and white mainly utilize, well, black and white. As such, you have to use these two colors to their full advantage. Grays are acceptable in these kinds of situations, but try to implement the usage of solid black and white colors for your photos to get that “punch.” Using these can help you make viewers be directed to your subject of focus.
Here are things you DON’T want to do as they can ruin the experience:
- Don’t be afraid of using flash. Just because you’re taking photos in black and white doesn’t mean you have to make sure black and white is natural. Just as you have to use lighting to your advantage, you’re also allowed to use flash in your photos. Flash can actually help make shadows and let the grays be used to their full potential.
- Don’t refuse the polarizer filter. A polarizer filter is something you can put in front of your lens to help deal with various glares and reflections, which can also be used to increase saturation. Even without a color as a basis, polarizers can help emphasize details such as waves and cloudy skies.
- Don’t do editing in black and white first. If you want to make a color photo into black and white, try to make sure you edit in color before in black and white. This is because editing in color is more efficient if you want to manage things like saturation. However, when you get to black and white editing, contrast and brightness are really things you need to adjust.
- Don’t hesitate in using vignettes. A vignette filter allows the border of photos to darken to make room for subjects in the center. Some apps actually have vignette options that allow you to contract and expand your borders – so try to play around with it to get the effect you want.
The Takeaway: Experimentation Counts
When it comes to taking black and white photos, experimentation counts a lot. This is because whole new principles are applied when it comes to black and white photography, especially when it comes to lighting and emphasis. Colored photographs and black and white photographs are often compared not just because of the hues, but also because of their approach to their subjects, their environments, and the effects. Understanding these intricacies and applying them through experimentation can do a great deal of improvement to your black and white photography.
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