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7 Tips for Black & White Photography

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September 12, 2018

1. Shoot RAW

Depending on your camera, try shooting RAW, if you don’t already. Shooting RAW gives you the most control in post-production. RAW files contain much more information than JPEGs. For instance, you’ll have greater control editing the shadows and highlights in a RAW file versus a JPEG. RAW files also contain more color information if you want a color version of the image.

Black and white light through trees

2. Increasing Exposure Time

Increasing exposure time creates a beautiful, dramatic effect in black and white photography. Elements in a shot, like the sky, clouds, and water, typically provide a brighter exposure and add contrast to the scene. Not only does it add more light and brighten subjects, it also adds texture and movement. Moving subjects, such as clouds or water, bring an ethereal quality to a shot.

Using a neutral density filter is helpful in these situations, as it will allow you to capture the movement without overexposing your photo.

Tree on a lake

3. Light

The great thing about black and white photography is you can shoot in lighting conditions that would normally be considered poor for color photography. For instance, a gray stark day by the seaside would do nothing for color photography, but in black and white you can create a beautiful seascape with contrast and texture.

However, don’t make the mistake of using black and white to fix bad lighting. Black and white photography cannot fix bad lighting if it doesn’t complement the subject.

Amazing light and texture on leaves

4. Low ISO

You’ll most likely already be shooting in the lowest possible ISO, but this is especially important when shooting black and white. Digital noise created by ISO becomes more obvious in black and white photography. However, if you do have digital noise and want to remove it, you can use ACDSee’s Noise Reduction tool.

Lion photograph

5. Use Contrast

As mentioned before, a longer exposure time gives black and white photos more contrast. Black and white photography relies on contrast—that is what makes it stunning. Just as in color photography where contrasting colors make an image pop, a strong contrast between light and dark can have the same effect. Contrast has been used for hundreds of years as an artistic effect in painting called chiaroscuro, the treatment of light and dark.

6. Use Texture

Adding texture to your black and white photos can create depth and interest. Incorporating elements of foliage, clouds, and weathered surfaces is a great way to add texture to your photos.

Funny Pug Photo

7. Composition

Our main focus is our composition, whether it’s for color or black and white photography. However, there are certain things to keep in mind when shooting black and white photography. You can no longer rely on color to create an interesting image. An image that relies on color will not necessarily translate well to black and white. If the colors have a similar tone, without enough contrast, they can come across as dull and monotone in black and white.

Railway Ties depth of field demonstration

Rather than looking for color, look for interesting shapes, lighting, and texture to create interest in your shots.

The trick to black and white photography is to change your way of thinking. Happy shooting!

 

 

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