Craft Compelling Photos In Black & White
One of the most neglected artistic uses of the digital camera is black and white photography. With a little practice in noticing when it will be effective, taking pictures in black and white can be a worth-while addition to your photographic skills
The main problem starting photographers have when trying out monochromatic photography is knowing how to look at a scene with grayscale in mind. Color tone, or contrast, becomes more critical, since the usual color distinctions are missing. Training your eye to detect color intensity isnt easy. One aid in this is to try the Black & White mode on the camera. Although there is no real advantage to this from the imaging standpoint, since even free photo editors can convert images to grayscale and sepia monotones, by using the camera display you can actually see the picture as it will look. This helps in indentifying problems with color tones merging, unwanted shadows, and other troubles that wouldnt be apparent in color. Practicing previewing in this way can help train your eye, and soon you will perceive the distinctions even without the camera.
With the removal of color, the photographer must look at his potential shot with new eyes: linear patterns and shadows can be much more striking in black and white than in color. Check for lines and shapes that define the images the simplicity of monchromes can transform an ordinary picture into something quite dramatic. The ratio of darks to lights (contrast) affects your shot more radically as well. Filling an image with soft light can create an otherworldly look. Look to use dark area to create a somber photograph. Experiment with mood it can often be more easily expressed with the simplicity of black and white.
Black and white portrait photography can produce extraordinary results. The loss of color can mean the loss of many probable flaws blemishes, flushes, red noses and the like can fade away, leaving a more flattering shot than one truer to the real thing. Careful lighting can either draw attention to features such as wrinkles, or reduce them. Work with your lighting to try to show what you want to say. In general, it is best to fill the frame with your subject, unless there is something in the background that is important to the story you are telling about him. Remember, simple images are often the strongest.
Scenic shots can also be more interesting in black and white. A common problem in photographing distant points is haze that washes out the colors. This is no difficulty in black and white! Bring out natures drama by using light and dark rather than color. Anyone who has doubts about nature photography in black and white need only look at Ansel Adams work.
Whether youve attempted monotone photography before and havent been thrilled, or its a new experience for you, you can learn to take stunning photographs in this manner. The basic elements of good photography are the same composition, contrast, depth of field, focus, lighting, exposure, etc. You just need to learn to see slightly differently contrast, lighting and exposure have more effect on the final image, and need to be considered more carefully. However, with some effort (and with digital film there is no need to be careful about the number of exposures), someday you may find your favorite photos to be in black and white.
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