Black and white photos depend on a wide range of gray colors that reflect the lights and shadows in the photos. The level of the gray tones and depths are related to the exposure that is used when taking the photo. While color photography may look brighter and more realistic, the depth of the gray gives a more dramatic effect to black and white scenes.
As you remove the color element from the shot, you give more space to other elements such as the objects, light, and shadows to attract the viewers’ eye. Therefore, many photographers like black and white photography to show human expressions, such as portrait photography.
Before exploring with you some of the amazing black and white photography examples of talented photographers, let us dig a little deeper into some tips that both amateur and professional photographers should consider when taking black and white photos:
Take your photo in color
Contrary to what many people think, black and white photos should be taken in color and then turned to monochrome in the post-processing stage on the computer. Taking the shot in color helps you to get an idea about the tone, light and shadow areas in the photo.
Use the Raw technology
The camera Raw technology is not available in many camera models including DSLRs and point-and-shoot cameras. Unlike ordinary image formats, Raw allows the camera to store all the shot information in the image, and then you can process it on your computer using applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. Shooting in Raw format gives you a maximum capability to modify and edit the photo exposure, light, shadows, and tone. At the same time, it preserves the high quality and sharpness of the original image.
Use a low ISO value
ISO refers to the sensitivity of the camera sensor to the incoming light. One of the side effects of a high ISO is noise, also known as grain, which appears on the final image. In order to avoid this problem, you need to choose the lowest ISO possible.
Consider the contrast
When you take a photo that will be converted into black and white, you have to consider that you will take the colors out of the image. So, you need to pay attention to the high contrast in the shot, because this will help you get better grayscale tones.
Composition and subject
As mentioned earlier, black and white photography makes the scenes more dramatic. So, you need to organize the subjects in the composition to reflect this tone. If you were taking monochrome portrait photos, you would need to focus on the faces and expressions to reflect the human feelings behind the shot.
Now, it is time to meet today’s four featured photographers. Each of them shows an extraordinary talent in black and white photography.
Jo is a self-taught photographer who resides in the United Kingdom. He has grown up with a real passion for all photography genres; however he has always had a soft spot for monochrome and has taken real inspiration from William Helsel and Ansel Adams. He describes his black and white photos, as follows: “It is always a challenge to attune my vision into mono when I want to shoot black and white”.
Mats discovered his passion for photography at the age of 7, and at age 12 he started to understand the light and exposure around him. He has a strong understanding of lighting and the environment that you can easily identify in his black and white photos.
Sonia is a passionate Brazilian photographer with an interest in people, portraits, street photos, performance, and urban exploration. She has a wonderful talent in black and white photography.
You will notice Hegel’s passion for black and white photography at first glance. His monochrome photos are full of life, thanks to his amazing understanding of lighting and shadows in his photographs.