The roots of Black and White photograph are as old as the art of photography itself. Black and white was once the only means of communication with photographs. Since the inception of photography, black and white has been a romantic medium. Veteran shutterbugs find it easier to click black and white or monochrome pictures as they are also known. Newer photographers even with their best digital camera find it challenging to click black and white photographs. Black and white photography effectively uses light and shades to bring our vivid emotions that even colour photographs taken with the best digital camera may not be able to capture. Use your photography cameras true prowess with these tips to get some amazing black and white shots.
Best Digital Camera Composition Tips for Black And White Photography
- Shoot RAW and JPEG – Some of the best monochrome/black-and-white pictures are made by editing raw files that have the full color information. However, you can also RAW and JPEG files simultaneously and use the digital cameras built-in Picture Style/Picture Control/Film Simulation mode to get a decent preview of the end result. These days, most photography cameras right from the entry-level up to the best digital camera have decent black and preview modes. By using your photography cameras RAW mode, you have the possibility to change your mind if the end result is not desirable.
- Look for Contrast, Texture and Shape – In monochrome pictures complimentary and opposing colors reduced to blacks, whites or shades of grey. You have to scout for tonal contrast to make a shot stand out. The best black and white photos usually have some portion near to pure white, and some portion that is near to black. Look out for textures that are not front-lit. Texture help highlight the subject. The presence of weathered texture is the exact reason why black and white photos of old items such as barns or antiques are so compelling.
- Experiment with Long Exposure – Long exposure shots can work magnificently in black and white photography, especially with moving water or clouds. Even if you do not have the best digital camera currently exposure settings are easily available in most modern photography cameras. Blurring of the movement caused by long exposures adds textural contrast with any stationary objects in the frame. Remember to use a tripod, remote release and mirror lock-up to reduce vibration and click super-sharp detailed images.
- Wide range of grays – Varying tones of gray preferably in the background help the image/subject to be detailed and distinguished. Wider range of grays can also be achieved by using flash to throw highlights and shadows over certain areas of the composition.
- Use HDR – Most photography cameras these days have a HDR mode. If your camera has one, use it. This is a rather lesser known tip; HDR is great for black and white photography as it exaggerates the dynamic range and edges.
Using Filters for the Best Digital Camera based Black and White Photography
Using Filters is one of the best known tips for best digital camera based black and white photography as they manipulate image contrast. Following is a quick cheat-sheet for using filters in black and white photography.
- Ultraviolet Filter – They help minimizing the effects that UV light has on the total contrast of a black and white outdoor shot. UV rays can lead to blurry objects in the distance in especially in landscape photography.
- Polarizing Filter – While shooting around reflective surfaces such as water, leaves or glass, use a polarizer to attenuate the reflections of the sun’s light.
- Graduated Neutral Density (ND) Filter – It is mostly used in landscape photography to reduce the exposure of the sky in black and white photography. They should be used in shots where the horizon is fairly straight for best results.
- Colored Filters – Interestingly, color filters play a crucial in black and white photography. Colored filters harness the color spectrum to create noticeable contrasts between certain colors in black and white photography.
- Red Filters – They are very extreme and can be used to enhance the sky and clouds in landscape photography.
- Orange Filters – Orange filter reduces the appearance of freckles and blemishes in human photography. They also reduce the appearance of fog and haze, darken skies and emphasize clouds.
- Yellow Filters – This filter is very subtle and is ideal for beginners especially in landscape photography.
- Green Filters – It is ideally used for photographing plants as it helps separate the green foliage from the brightly-colored flowers and buds.
- Blue Filters – They are rarely used in black and white photography as they are known to darken images further.
Best Digital Camera Image-Processing techniques for Black and White Photography
Just like in the movies, a great deal of polishing happens in the post-production stage. You can use image processing softwares to polish and enhance your final images. Sometimes, even the best digital camera with a stellar crew leads to black and white photographs that lack impact. This is very software processing steps up.
- HSL/Grayscale – This processing in absolute must to get stellar black and white shots. It lets you to adjust the brightness of eight colors (individually) that make up the image.
- Levels and Curves – It can help you manipulate tonal range and contrast of your image.
- Silver Effex Pro – If you are absolute beginner with using Photoshop and Lightroom, you could consider using Silver Effex Pro for some amazing results.
- Dodge and Burn – Dodging and burning is a traditional darkroom technique that burns/darkens highlights and holds back/brightens shadows. This gives a sense of greater sharpness and enhanced textures. These days, most of the image-processing softwares have this feature built-in.
The minimalistic use of blacks, grays, and white tones and photographic cameras produce graphic, memorable representations of everyday images. Even the use of the best digital camera will not assure amazing black and white shots. Practice and dedication is the key to master the beautiful art of black and white photography.