Top Ten Tips for Black and White Photography
Find out how you can improve your Black and White Photography by following our top ten tips!
1. Pick the right subjects…
For images with impact, look for shape, form, texture and tone – these are often overlooked in vibrant, saturated pictures, but with colour stripped away they take on greater significance. Subjects that are already relatively ‘mono’, such as trees in mist, snow-capped mountains and the urban environment, are ready-made for black-and-white photography.
2. …but avoid these
Scenes where colour is key don’t often translate well into mono – a sunset, for instance, or a bluebell wood in spring. Such subjects can end up looking flat when reduced to shades of grey.
3. Find the ‘right’ light
Overcast conditions are perfect for lowering contrast and helping you to capture detail in close-ups, while low, raking light at dawn and dusk can reveal previously hidden textures, too. For landscape photos with clout, head out on sunny days: harsh sunlight boosts contrast, with deep blue skies turning inky black in a mono conversion.
4. Shoot in Raw
For the best-quality mono conversions, shoot in Raw. Not only do your camera’s CR2 fi les retain more detail than JPEGs, they’ll stand up better to the rigours of mono image-editing techniques such as dodging and burning (see Tip 7).
5. Use the Monochrome Picture Style
When you shoot Raw, images are captured without any in-camera effects applied. So why switch to the Monochrome Picture Style? Because this will give you a useful black-and-white preview on your camera’s LCD screen, even though the saved file will be in colour. Even if you’re planning to convert an image to mono you should still shoot in colour – see next tip…
6. Convert in Photoshop
By carrying out the colour-to-mono conversion in Photoshop CS or Elements, you’ll have complete control over the process. Try the Convert to Black and White command in Elements (Enhance > Convert to Black and White) or a Black & White Adjustment Layer in CS.
7. Darkroom techniques
Use the Dodge and Burn tools in CS and Elements to selectively dodge (lighten) highlights and burn (darken) shadows – it’s a great technique for touching up mono portraits.
8. Low key/high key
Look for scenes consisting of mainly midtones and shadows to create moody and mysterious low-key shots. High-key scenes, such as a wedding dress photographed against a white screen, have a light, airy feel.
9. Add some grain
Add a gritty finish to documentary style shots and portraits by increasing grain (noise) in CS or Elements. Always set a low ISO in camera though, so you start with the best-quality file.
10. Perfect prints
Printers require careful calibration if you’re to avoid mono prints taking on a colour cast. If you plan on doing a lot of black-and-white photography, consider investing in a printer that’s optimised for mono output. Canon’s top-of-the-range PIXMA Pro-1 offers five-ink monochrome printing, although at around £700 it doesn’t come cheap!
This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 at 11:07 am and is filed under Black & White, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a comment. Pinging is currently not allowed.