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Better Black and White Photos

Better Black and White Photos

In the days of color photography, there are many who still swear by black and white photography, because the world changes when it is in black and white. If you really want to define a subject’s form, switching to black and white to take a photo will emphasize all the details you miss in color. Much of that is largely because, with black and white, you can hide what you don’t want to reveal. It could be the marks on a face, the dirtiness of your surroundings or the sheer garishness of a place, person or thing. Whatever your case may be, here are a few simple ways of going about it!

1.) Choose Your Subjects

Before you get down to taking pictures, it’s important to know what subjects are best suited for black and white photography. If your subject has texture that is naturally dramatic, you have the first step to a good black and white photo. Since this kind of photography is all about darkness and light, pay attention to form, shading, pattern and tone. The simplest example would be that of raw, natural materials, like rocks or metal. Black and white is all about capturing a sense of the dramatic. Textures such as wood grain, stark metal, repeated patterns in nature, like waves or spirals, seem to work well in black and white as well.

2.) Time Your Shoot

Many digital photographers actually prefer to shoot images for black and white in low contrast situations. So, a dark or overcast day can be a great time to shoot outdoor pictures. Ironically, these are the days when those who shoot only in color sit at home complaining about the “poor light.” So, the next time you find yourself with a dark and gloomy day, shoot some black and white shots and see what happens!

Composition Matters

In black and white photography, you can’t use color to lead the eye into or around your shot. By that, I mean you need to train yourself to look at shapes, tones and textures in your frame as points of interest. Pay particular attention to shadows and highlights as well, which will become a feature of your shot.

3.) Shoot Stark Colors

Start with high contrasting colors in your everyday subjects at home. Stark colors such as red, deep purples and bright yellows can make a really good starting point. With bold colors such as these, your camera will interpret them differently. It’s almost as if the camera leaves out what the eye distinguishes as that particular color and keeps the intensity there. If you can’t find these colors around your home, try going out into your garden and taking shots of flowers that have these colors. Or, go to a shopping complex, a department store, a nursery, a plant store or a public garden. Those are all good places for some great pictures.

4.) Go for Symmetry

With black and white, try to keep some symmetry in your texture. It’s easier to create stunning black and white photos when you have symmetry in your texture, because it can sometimes be lost in color. Symmetrical textures in black and white are consistently beautiful and offer something the eye cannot capture as well when you are working in color.

5.) Set to a Low ISO

Shoot with the lowest possible ISO. This is because “noise” (the graininess in the picture) created by the ISO can become more obvious in black and white photography than in color.

Happy shooting!

~ Zahid H. Javali