6 Ways to Create Stunning Monochrome/Black and White Pictures
There’s a different feel to shooting in black and white or monochrome.
Maybe it’s something about how the absence of color allows for more focus on lines and shadows.
Maybe it is how it enhances the subject’s form.
Maybe it’s the nostalgic effect a monochrome image has.
After all, the first photographs were shot in monochrome! Whatever the reasons, even in an age of color and color enhancing tools, black and white/monochrome photography, is still preferred by many. This for good reason too.
Those of you who are already aware of the beauty of shooting in monochrome might be looking to sharpen your black and white photography skills. We have put together a few basics to help get you started.
For the sake of simplicity, we’re just going to use the word black and white from here on out.
There is a slight difference between black and white and monochrome. To make a long story short, all black and white photos are monochrome but all monochrome photos are not black and white. We will address this in more detail in a future blog. For now, let us proceed!
- Look for Lines, Shapes, Textures and Form
When framing for a black and white photo, pay attention to how the image is coming together. Look at the shape of your subject as well as those around it. How do the various forms complement each other?
Look for lines within other shapes as well. For close ups, pay attention to surface textures. As mentioned earlier, black and white helps bring form into focus hence training your eye to see in that way is key.
- Framing & Composition
Another thing that is extremely important is how you compose your photo. Use of negative space in black and white photography can really determine how much your picture stands out. Where you place your subject and how your entire frame comes together is of as much importance as it is in color photography.
- Light and Contrast
Contrast helps in black and white photography by giving your pictures a little extra depth. One way to increase contrast is by shooting in hard light. You can achieve hard lighting though both indoor and natural lighting techniques. Another way to increase contrast on your images is in post. It is important to learn basic Photoshop skills so that you are able to make adjustments to your images at your own pace as opposed to in shoot (though that can be fun too).
- Play with Exposure, Aperture Settings and Gray Scale
Remember even in the absence of color there is a lot for you to work with. Experiment with varying aperture settings and exposure. Don’t always go for clear cut blacks and whites in high contrast. Understand that your camera and editing tools have the ability to convert colors to different shades of gray. Try putting that to the test!
- Filter Friendly
Color filters for black and white photography? Yes, indeed. As mentioned earlier, your camera or editing tools have the ability to convert colors to shades on the gray scale. RGB filters work by blocking two primary colors and enhancing one. Photographers back in the day would manually place actual color filters over their lenses to enhance or dull down certain shades. When translated to black and white, the effect is profound.
- Highlights and Shadows
You can play with highlights and shadows in post-production as well. This can help both increase and decrease contrast and determine the overall tone of your final photograph. Increasing highlights while darkening shadows allows for a harsher and more dramatic end result.
There is so much more to learn when it comes to shooting in black and white. You have all sorts of advanced in shoot and post edits as well as techniques to really fine tune your images using software like Photoshop and Lightroom.
These however, like your camera, require a little technical skill which you can easily learn through programs online! Give us a shout if you need our support! We’re always out to back fellow photographers!
IYPO is dedicated to offering aspiring and intermediate level photographers with online tutorials and classes, designed and conducted by some of the most experienced professionals in the industry.