Create better black and white photographs

July 13, 2014

I have fond memories of shooting in black and white film then anxiously waiting while the negatives were developed. I also recall the anticipation, the excitement and often the disappointment it brought too!

The Black & White Photography Project was devised to embrace the wonderful world of monochrome regardless of what we use to achieve it. What a fitting start to kick off with a post on how to create better black & white photographs.

PODcast IMG_6191 B&W

Shoot in RAW 

Many of us take photographs in colour occasionally converting them to black and white. Those of you with a camera may have heard about shooting in RAW. It’s a file format that captures all the image data without compressing it. It enables you to produce higher quality images and correct problem images that you’d not be able to recover in JPEG format. You can read about RAW vs JPEG here and understand the benefits of RAW here.

Shoot in colour 

If you don’t have a camera with RAW or you use your mobile, there are plenty of ways to convert your images. Pic Monkey is a excellent editing tool plus there’s Instagram and numerous photographic apps including Snapseed. Most digital cameras offer a black and white function but you have more options available when you edit if you shoot in colour. You can read more about this here.

PODcast IMG_0858 B&W

Shoot with a low ISO 

You may do this already but shooting with the lowest ISO produces the least amount of noise/grain. The smallest amount of noise will show up like a flashlight and it’s harder to alter post production. You can read more about ISO settings here.

Best time to shoot 

Low contrast situations are perfect for black and white photography so embrace the outdoors on those gloomy days! Fog and mist all have the potential to create soft interesting images.

Composition

Our eyes see in colour but for black and white photographs it’s important to see the world in tones of grey. We need to think about shapes, patterns and textures rather than what takes our eye.

PODcast IMG_0058 B&W

Contrast

As you’re not using colour to distinguish one part of your image for another, variances in tone are more important. There’s no need to look out for stark contrasts but they will come into play when composing a photograph.

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Light 

Lighting is also significant. Direct lighting will often add to the contrast while side lighting will reveal the texture. Light from any direction will create shadows. Light can add interest but also be distracting.

PODcast - eyes B&W

Shapes, patterns and tones

Shapes can come alive in a black and white photograph creating a bolder image. Tonal variations can cause an added dimension as can striking patterns and textures. Architecture can create interesting results. 

PODcast IMG_1311 dang

Landscapes

If you want to shoot landscapes, look out for dramatic skylines and interesting cloud formations. Skies can add mood and dynamism.

Filters 

Coloured filters have long been associated with black and white photography. A red filter for example can turn a blue sky almost black. Most cameras have this function already built in so you can experiment without purchasing filters. A polariser can also be used to heighten or lessen contrast whereas a neutral density filter allows extended shutter speeds in bright conditions.

PODcast IMG_0998 B&W

Click here to join week #1 of the Black & White Photography Project

 

 

 

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  • Sara (@mumturnedmom) July 13, 2014 at 3:56 am

    Fantastic tips Charly, rally looking forward to this project x

  • mummyshambles July 13, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Great shots and tips!
    I love black and white photography so I’m really glad you’ve started this linky.
    Looking forward to looking at all the great photographs! 🙂

  • The Mummy Diary July 13, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Great tips and I will be using them to shoot better black and white photos, your photos are stunning as are is the subject. Just beautiful 🙂

  • Iona@redpeffer July 13, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Really good advice Charly. The one thing I miss about my DSLR is shooting in RAW (oh, and the flexibility of lenses!)

  • Louise July 13, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Fabulous tips and beautiful photos. Will be taking this advice on board 🙂

  • TheBoyandMe July 13, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Thanks for these tips, this was the type of post I was after in the week when I tweeted. Perfect. I hadn’t thought about the ISO settings so thanks for that.

    Love the photo of Pod eating, her eyes looks so intense.

  • ninja Cat July 13, 2014 at 11:33 am

    What a great tip on the ISO setting thank you !

  • Super Busy Mum July 13, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Great tips and wow…I have not shot RAW in a long time! I may just start doing again! Thanks for the great post/tips hun! x

  • Cathy Glynn July 13, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Fabulous photos, useful tips too, thank you x

  • Emma Greenwood July 13, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Great tips and a great idea for a linky

  • Jaime Oliver July 13, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    i love this project honey 🙂

  • LauraCYMFT July 13, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Excellent tips! And some gorgeous photos too.

  • Verily Victoria Vocalises July 13, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Brilliant tips – I shall be referring to this! Such beautiful images. Thanks for opening a great linky xx

  • Sam @ And then the fun began... July 13, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Really great new project Charly! I had great fun trying out various shots today although I basically let my camera do the work for me! It is a Sony RX100 – so not a DSLR but the next best thing. I think you can take RAW images with it and you can certainly fiddle about with ISO metering, etc,, but I wouldn’t have a clue right now…

  • Wicked World of Lucas July 15, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    These are fab tips. B&W are my favourite photos and these were so useful.
    PS I showed my mum the photo of POD and hubby in the water. Her response? When you start taking photos as good as that, can I have a copy? Parents eh??? I knew what she meant!!!

  • Clara July 16, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Dreamy photos and some brilliant tips (that I’ve totally bookmarked for future reference!)

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