A simple, black and white photo is timeless, and an art-form all its own. Here are a few tips and tricks for taking black and white photos, as well as some of the reasons why black and white photos remain a staple of the photography world.
Why We Love Black and White
While color photography possesses its own beauty, black and white photography is in a category all its own. Black and white images give you the ability to direct the viewer’s gaze straight to your subject, without the interference of color taking focus away from your subject. A mundane, every-day landscape can be transformed simply by shifting to black and white. In portrait photography, black and white is flattering to all skin tones, as well as body shapes and sizes.
Black and white photos work well for many different types of lighting situations, but if you are new to photography, especially portraiture, finding and creating even lighting conditions is ideal. Try to avoid harsh, early-afternoon light, as this will create unflattering shadows on your subject’s face. You may also want to avoid very low-light situations, as this will force you to increase your ISO (we’ll address ISO soon). Morning and late afternoon light are great for shooting black and white, as well as shaded locations away from direct sunlight.
RAW and JPEG
If possible, shoot in RAW. If your camera allows you to shoot in black and white, but only black and white JPEG, your best option is to shoot in color JPEG, converting to black and white later on while you are editing. The reason behind shooting in color is that the photo file will retain more information, allowing you to make more changes and have more control when you edit on your computer.
In film photography, the grain in a black and white image can be absolutely beautiful. However, digital “noise” from raising your ISO just doesn’t have the same beauty as film grain! When shooting black and white digitally, aim to keep your ISO as low as possible, as this will reduce the amount of digital noise. If possible, you may want to use a tripod, which will help you keep your ISO low, while avoid blur caused by camera shake.
If you are new to photography, hopefully this will inspire you to try some black and white photos of your own. Do you have any tips and tricks for black and white photos? If so, please share them.