Both black and white and color photography have their charm, but it takes some skill to master when and how to shoot or edit in black and white. In this video, Jamie Windsor shares nine quick and very useful tips for all of you who want to raise your black and white photography to a new level. These tips will help you brush-up your skills, and Jamie also shares plenty of example images to illustrate his points.
1. Plan to shoot in black and white
Learn how to see in black and white and plan to edit the photo this way before you take it. This will change the way you see the scenes around you, understand the light better and how it interacts with the elements of your images. When you approach photographing a scene with the “black and white mindset,” you’ll start to change how and what you photograph.
2. Look for the abstract
Black and white photography is a great medium for creating abstract photos. Look for the shadows, patterns, and textures; or you can turn everyday scenes into abstract images, or body parts into what looks like landscapes.
3. Shoot in RAW or use color filters
If you shoot digitals, shoot in RAW so you have more flexibility when editing the image. You can later simulate the color filters as you edit the image. If you shoot film, use color filters to create contrast and emphasize textures. But don’t do any of it just for the sake of doing it – think about what you want to communicate in an image and use the filter (or edit it) accordingly.
4. Use long exposures
“Black and white photography loves long exposures,” Jamie points out. Textures are emphasized in black and white, and long exposures can really bump this up. Using a polarizer is a good idea to minimize the reflections and highlights that might look weird in black and white.
5. Dodge and Burn
Black and white photography gives you a lot of space to play with local adjustment tools. Use dodging and burning to highlight the sections of an image; emphasize textures, contrast, and brightness in certain areas to bring your subject’s attention to these areas. It can help you communicate your vision to the viewer in a better and more precise way.
In this regard, Jamie mentions two quotes by Ansel Adams: “You don’t take a photograph, you make it” and “Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.” Keep these in mind when editing your black and white images.
6. Understand how light is affected
Think about how the change from color to black and white will affect the light and the mood in your photo. In color photography, shooting on a sunny day can give your images a warm feeling, while an overcast day can give them a cooler tone. In black and white photography, it’s all about the contrast. Direct sunlight will give you stronger contrast that will emphasize angles and textures. Softer, overcast days will give you a softer look, a wider tonal range and make your images look calmer and quieter.
7. Use high dynamic range (HDR)
When done properly, HDR can look rather well in black and white photography. So, try taking multiple exposures and layering them up to bring out the details in shadows and highlights. Just don’t overdo it.
8. Emphasize mood
When taking portraits, the loss of color can really emphasize the emotion in your subject. So, a black and white portrait can make your viewers connect to the subject more. Because of this, pay extra attention to the eyes and try to bring them out. And again, don’t overdo it.
9. Subvert expectation
Try creating black and white shots of things you usually associate with strong colors. This will expand your visual sensibilities and challenge the viewers’ perception of the visual world they know. Also, this can bring out textures that are usually overshadowed by strong colors.
[9 quick tips for BETTER BLACK & WHITE photos | Jamie Windsor]