The bush is so often about vibrance. sunlight, clarity and distinctive colours. That said, sometimes a black and white image, if taken correctly, can enhance different qualities in your image in a way that colour does not. Here’s our advice on how to master your black and white photographs.
#1 Choosing a subject: Some subjects lend themselves to colour and are not as effective in black and white. For example, sunset photographs rely on the colour of a great sky for their impact. Colourful birds, flowers and landscapes are other examples. In these instances, the only logical approach is to shoot your subject in colour. On the other hand, some subjects are ideally suited to black and white photography. Animals that have high contrasting coats and those with interesting patterns, textures and shades all make suitable subjects.
#2 Change your mindset: Approaching black and white photography needs to be done very differently. You need to look at your subject and imagine it without colour. Pick up on the lines, shadows, shapes and contrasts rather than seeing it in a typical way. This is incredibly beneficial and allows you to interpret your subject in a different manner. You will find yourself focusing on specific parts of your subject that you would usually overlook. One thing is for sure; once you get into the ‘black and white headspace’ your photographs will showcase the character of the subject in an entirely different way.
#3 Using light: When photographing in colour I often go out in the early morning or late afternoon when lighting on your subject is soft. In black and white, it is the opposite, one is often found photographing when the sun is at its brightest in order to create those lines, shapes, shadows and contracts spoken about in point two. I am also more inclined to take photos looking directly toward the sun, to produce silhouettes that make the most of trees and other strong shapes against the sky.
#4 Camera settings: Most of the time, black and white requires no different technical expertise than colour photography. To take better black and white photographs, you don’t necessarily need to change the way you use your camera. As bizarre as it sounds, I always shoot in colour and change to black and white during post-processing. With this being said, remember these two small tips to keep in mind when taking a photograph in colour with the intention of changing it into black and white. Firstly, shoot in a low ISO, where possible, this will create wonderfully crisp lines. Secondly, always shoot in RAW in order to have as much information available for use in the editing process.
#5 Post-processing: My last point is incredibly important to take into consideration for post-processing as is enables you to get creative while converting into black and white. I have added an example below of how this is beneficial to you.
Photographed by Mike Sutherland, Adam Bannister, James Hobson, Kate Neill
Written by Kate Neill
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