A Simple Guide To Black and White Photography

Black and white photography is an art that became unpopular at the advent of colour photography, but is gradually being used more as photographers realise the kind of beauty and drama that only black and white creates.

Some Tips to Consider

To begin with, the key to black and white photography is being able to visualize what the scene you’re photographing will look like in shades of grey. Contrasting colours won’t necessarily translate into contrasting shades of grey, which will give your images more impact, for example the colours blue and red when converted to black and white can turn out as identical shades of grey. To give your images a contrasty look you need to look for dark and light coloured areas, such as bright yellow flowers contrasted with dark green grass.

Don’t change the settings on your camera and take your photos in black and white, it’s much better to convert them to black and white in post editing, because this gives you more control over the final image.

When to Shoot

The lighting in the image is key to a dramatic looking photo and the best times of day for this are mornings and evenings because the sun creates long, dark shadows. Cloudy. overcast days can also work great in black and white, you can still find contrasting shades on days like this or even try turning the contrast right down on your photos for a simpler image, this is best done in post production though.

Take Your Photos in RAW

Using RAW file format is best if you intend on doing any post editing of your images. RAW retains more information than a JPEG or TIFF file and leaves the image largely unprocessed by the camera, so you can tweak all the settings in post production in Lightroom or Photoshop. This is important so you have more room to edit the photo without losing quality or making the photo look unnatural.

Converting Your Photos to Black and White

There are a few ways to convert your photos to black and white, and I’ll list a few of these methods briefly.Convert to grayscale is probably the easiest method to convert to black and white, and this can be done in Photoshop by going to Image > Mode > Grayscale, and this simply removes all colour from the photo.

  • Removing saturation is another way to convert your photos to black and white, and you can do this by going to Enhance > Adjust Color > Adjust Hue/Saturation.
  • Removing saturation is another way to convert your photos to black and white, and you can do this by going to Enhance > Adjust Color > Adjust Hue/Saturation.
  • The gradient map tool is a preferred method to the previous two, because it gives much better results, making the dark areas black and the light areas white. You can do this by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map.
  • The channel mixer tool is probably the best option you should use, and gives the most control over the final results. This option allows you to change the darkness and lightness of the colours red, green and blue. This is similar to using coloured filters on your camera, which are often used for black and white photography. You can use the channel mixer by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Channel Mixer.

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