The initial years of photography were not so colourful as they are now. Pictures clicked through a camera were limited to black and white photography. Still, those pictures are considered as inspiring, groundbreaking and sight of amusement. Why is that? Why in the age of high-definition cameras where every colour can be captured vividly, black and white photography has sustained its relevance.
Well, black and white photography is what gave us a perspective, it is what opened the doors to so many possibilities that we are enjoying right now and most important of them all, monochrome photography looks cool!
So if you are somewhat inspired by photographing in black and white then you have come to the right place. In this blog, we will talk about how to do black and white photography and how to do it right.
If you are unaware of the fact of what black and white photos is then here is a brief definition for you. Black and white photography is capturing the images in such a way that the colours range from black to white. It can not be simpler than that.
The rise of coloured photography doesn't seem to have any influence on the popularity of monochrome photography. There seems to be a pretty good reason for that. B&W photography is something that gives an image a more classic look. It somewhat simplifies any image and cut the distractions that generally occur in coloured pictures.
History is witness to how popular black and white photography is ever since it came into existence. The best part about doing it is that there's not many struggles in capturing a picture in B&W at least in today's world.
According to the website artofheadshots.com, black and white photography was a byproduct of the first camera invented in 1820. The website also mentions that before the arrival of the first camera, image capturing heavily relied upon mediums such as painting, drawing, and sketching.
But humanity soon realized that the pictures clicked by a camera were more detailed in comparison to the traditional mediums.
That's when happened the rise of black and white cameras.
The best part about them is that even after the coloured cameras came, more preference was given to black and white cameras because photos clicked from them appeared to be more classy and poise.
Now, if you have decided to do black and white photography and have little idea about how to do it perfectly and create your own piece of inspiration then this guide will help you with that. These 10 tips given below will help you in clicking the best black and white pictures possible. Black and white photography is only about building a perspective and if you do so, you can click any type of black and white picture and somehow make it stand out. So, here are the 11 tips to improve your b&w photography.
Here are some important tips that you must aware of before clicking black and white photography.
1. Imagine Before Clicking
The first and most important thing to do before clicking a picture is imagining how it should look on paper. When you click a regular picture, you set the frame in such a way that everything gets captured. Every colour, every object, and every good lighting/shadow.
But that's not the case with monochrome photography. While doing that, you have to keep in mind that the colours are not going to get captured and the shadows will become more dominant.
Also, there are some objects that you won't be able to recognize in black and white. This is why your aim should be to keep it simple. Whether it is choosing the subject, background or source of light, there shouldn't be anything complicated that may ruin your final picture.
So, before clicking your picture, imagine what you want it to look like. Then you can go on and set the frame as per your convenience. This way, you won't have to struggle during editing to get the details right.
2. Take Some Inspiration
If you are finding it hard to imagine what kind of picture you want or you are open to ideas then we'd advise you to take some inspiration. Check out other people's work and see what kind of pictures you can take in black and white.
You can see Pinterest or Instagram for ideas on b&w photography.
3. Identify the Subject
There's one thing for sure. Not all subjects are meant to be captured in black and white. Subjects that are too complex to understand or have edges that make it hard to identify. Such as a weirdly shaped lamp may look like a small tree if done in black and white.
There are a number of possibilities that can happen while doing b&w photography. That is why it is so important to choose the right subject while photographing your masterpiece.
And the best part is that not all photos clicked in black and white are supposed to be a masterpiece. Some may be part of your inspiration and others may become part of your experiments. So, make sure you identify the right subject so that your b&w turns out really well.
4. Put Focus on Composition
As mentioned above, coloured photos an be a bit distracting since there are so many colours to see and so many shiny objects popping up that your product does not get enough credit or attention that you want. This is the problem that gets solved while doing B&W photography.
Since there are no distractions in black and white photography and you get to put all the camera's focus onto your subject, you can actually work on compositions. There are different kinds of compositions that you can experiment with such as the rule of thirds, a frame within a frame, etc. This way you can get more focus on the details of your b&w photographs just like the details you get when you click photos in colour.
5. Use Flash if necessary
Just because it is black and white photography, doesn't mean that you can't take pictures with flash on. In fact, flash can help you illuminate the subject and put shadows in the right place. You need the light to fill the white in your b&w photography.
6. Play with Contrast
To make your pictures stand out and make them look more illuminating, you have to up your contrast game. Contrast is what differentiates your subject from the background or any light source in your frame. It means that your whites should look more white and your blacks should be darker.
How can you do that? Well, there's a very easy way to achieve all of that. Firstly, you can start out by putting direct light onto your subject while making it stand in front of a dark backdrop. This way, when you click your picture, you can get the contrast right. Also, you can do just the opposite so as to show the details in your subject while making the picture look more faded. Also, if you can't get the contrast right in the photo, you can always bring the photo to the editing table and make fine adjustments to it.
7. Try the Golden Hour
Many photographers prefer to click pictures during golden hour for a reason. Golden hour is when the sunrises/sunsets and the shadows become long. The light touching on earth seems golden giving it a majestic look. So, doing photography doing such an hour can amplify the beauty of your picture.
Now coming back to black and white photography. Sometimes clicking in black and white can give your photo a dull look. To avoid that, you can always shoot during times when the shadows are longer. Choose a subject that casts longer shadows so that you can click the best pictures in B&W.
8. Dark or Light?
One of the debates that happen amongst photographers is that whether black and white pictures look better in dark or in light. But what is this dark or light when everything is black and white. Well, just like coloured pictures, black and white photography also has an exposure level. While high exposure will give you light photos, low exposure will give you dark photos.
So, which one is better? Well, it all depends on the mood of the picture and your motive behind clicking it.
If you want your picture to look more mysterious and dark, then keep the exposure low and your b&w photo will appear darker. On the other hand, if you want your b&w picture to reflect happiness, youth, shine and less tension then keep the exposure on the higher side. This way you can play with the dark and light shades of your b&w photo and still keep it relevant.
9. The texture that decides the feels
You must have noticed that while doing regular photography, the overall feel of your picture depends upon the colours and textures. The brighter the colours and the clearer the textures, the better one can decide the feel of a photograph. Now in black and white photography, since there are no colours, one has to rely on the texture which makes it even more crucial to put some effort into making it look perfect.
So, if you are doing b&w photography, train your eyes to look for textures and you will notice that it will become easier and easier to identify the feel of your photograph.
Look for lines, little bumps like textures, etc. You can also try capturing fog on a cold winter morning. It may be challenging at first, but once you capture it right, there's no going back.
10. Shoot in Color and then Edit
You don't necessarily have to shoot in black and white. If you are a beginner, it can especially hard for you to do so. So just to keep it simple and easy, you can just capture your image in colour and then turn it into B&W through editing.
If you are a photographer then you most probably know how to do photography in colours. But if you don't have much knowledge of black and white then take full advantage of tools like lightroom and photoshoot to edit and enhance your photograph.
11. Emotions are your Best Friends
If you are shooting in black and white then there is one thing for sure. While capturing a subject such as a human being, an animal or something similar, you have to emphasize the emotions. If you don't put the focus on emotions of your subject then the picture will look very bland.
Whether it is a happy emotion or a sad emotion or let's say, it is an emotion that can only be captured through candid photography, you have to make sure that all your camera's focus is to enhance that emotion. For that, you can use the right contrast, the right composition, and the right frame.
12. Don't be afraid
Black and white photography is something that looks intimidating because there are very few possibilities that the true meaning behind your picture will reflect in your photograph. There can be numerous reasons behind that. It can be bad lighting, wrong composition, no cropping, or some other physical boundaries.
But you have to remember that in the end, it is only photography and you have all the time in the world to do as many experiments as you can because the more you practice, the more you will be able to furnish your photography skills. If you can't get the picture right in the first attempt, do it again and again.
And don't be afraid of doing the editing because editing exists only because one has to give final retouching to the pictures so that they can look presentable.
So, if you are stagnant in doing black and white photography perfectly, you can follow the tips given above and you will be able to master the art. There are several possibilities out there for you to explore. All you have to do is pick up your camera and dive into the ocean of those possibilities where you might find something much bigger than anybody has ever seen.
Why Black and White Photography Looks Much More Elegant Than Colour?
This is an age-old question that people have been asking from some time now, and we here at Spyne after some research have come to the actual conclusion to why Black and White Photography looks so much more elegant and beautiful than coloured photography. And the reason is quite simple as when we see a coloured photo, the colours are a distraction for us, due to which we fail to understand that actual aesthetics of the images.
And another reason we found is that since the time of our birth, we humans see the world in colour which leaves is astonished at the sight of a beautifully composed black and white image. In this case, Black and White Photography is something unusual to us and this is the reason we are so much drawn to it.
Which is The Best Camera for Black and White Photography?
You might be thinking that each and every camera could do well when it comes to black and white photography as it is just a step down from coloured photography, but that is not the case. When normal DSLRs click an image they also capture colour and those colours have a lot to contribute to those mid-tones of the black and white version of the photo. Hence there are special cameras who are only used for Black and White Photography. And as these cameras are made just for Black and White Photography, they do not see colour. Photographers who are really passionate about the concept of black and white photography buy these cameras so that their images are not at all affected by the cameras own colour reproduction.
(Leica M Monochrom is one of the world's best cameras for shooting in black and white)
What Kind of Photos Look Best in Black and White?
Here are Some More Photos For You To Get The Best Ideas and Inspirations For Your Black and White Photography.