10 quick black and white photography tips

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Black and white photography tips: 01 Think in black and white

Of course, we can always just take an image we shot in colour and convert it to black and white in our photo editing software and hope for the best, but effective, powerful monochrome requires much more than an afterthought. Think about your favourite black and white images.

Most were probably shot by famous photographers from the past, and others might be more modern classics. We guarantee you that each one of the black and white images was pre-visualised with monochrome in mind.

What do we mean by this? The photographer studied that scene and mentally desaturated it in his or her mind, thinking about things like contrast and patterns. Even if you’re capturing your original images in colour, try to think about your scenes in this way and we are certain you’ll get punchier results.

For instance, shooting a bright green lone tree against a rich, blue sky will look great in colour, but in black and white the tones are so similar that they’ll become almost identical shades of grey. And you want a strong level of contrast in your tones that wows the viewer straightaway.

Black and white photography tips: 02 Textures and shapes

When you remove the colour from a scene, your composition then becomes reliant on texture, form and shape to provide impact. So further to what we said above in Tip 1, as you train your brain and eye to disregard the colour information in a scene, as well as contrast make sure you identify interesting textures and shapes that you can include in your compositions.

Black and white photography tips: 03 Shoot raw

It often goes without saying that you should shoot raw, but it’s especially important for black and white photographers. Shooting raw files and processing your images in a raw converter such as Adobe’s Camera Raw allows you to produce monochrome images in a non-destructive way.

You also have the flexibility to change the tones and contrast within a scene, even add a subtle colour cast. If you wish, you can even add effects like vignetting or replicate the old film technique of split-toning to enhance that nostalgic feel.

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