Most amateur photographers choose to use colour and light to enhance the composition of their photographs but many don’t realise what effects can be created using black and white. Here are some tips on black and white digital photography basics.
First of all the amateur photographer needs to remember that black and white isn’t just as simple as plain black or plain white. Don’t forget all the shades of grey in between and the possible contrasts.
Lighting is just as important in black and white digital photography basics as it is in colour because of the contrasts and textures it can create.
Photographing landscapes: On a bright sunny day with a cloudless sky, it’s probably best to stick to colour but if there are some clouds, creating shadows on the ground, this can provide fantastic contrasts. A really stormy lowering sky with billowing clouds look great in monochrome, as do really craggy, rocky landscapes. A grassy meadow full of wild flowers won’t create the right effect at all.
The point of monochrome landscape photography is to produce drama using contrast between bright light and dark shadows. Don’t concentrate on aspects of your photo that would normally require colour to show them to their best effect.
Photographing portraits: Another of the black and white digital photography basics is portraiture. Most people have seen professional wedding photographers at work and their resulting monochrome portraits. The lack of colour means that the subject is the total focus of the photo and the muted tones lend an air of timelessness and romanticism.
The absence of colour also lends an artistic tone and modern digital cameras often have different tonal modes such as greyscale and sepia as well as plain black and white.
Here are some more technical and artistic black and white digital photography basics:
1. Get a camera which will shoot in RAW (this is not an abbreviation, it literally means unprocessed) and will enable you to do the processing on your computer and will give you much more flexibility.
2. Use the lowest possible ISO to reduce the grainy appearance. You can add it back later, if you wish but you can’t take it out.
3. Take photos outside on a cloudy day.
4. As you can’t focus on colour, seek out textures and tones to give interest to your photos.
5. Use movement in your photos to give impact and drama.
6. Invest in a good software program such as Adobe Photoshop for your post production manipulation.
If you follow these black and white digital photography basics, you’ll soon be turnout out professional quality photographs.