Black and White Recipe

Sometimes you just know a photo is meant to be Black and White. Learning how to produce that in camera is a really talent. Here’s my guide to producing a great Black and White photo.

 Note: You will need editing software for this.

1)Learning to see B&W

Learning how to see in Black and White can be tricky for some photographers. However, there are a few tips here to help you start. Start looking for the shadows and highlights in your composition instead of colours. This takes some practice, but will help you take better photographs. 

Top tip- Shoot in raw and set your display as Black and white, until you learn how to do it without. 

2) Shape and form

You are looking for simple, strong shapes, that can be used as leading lines, or positioned diagonally across the frame to create dynamic images.

3) Texture and detail.

Texture is great for black and white photo’s. It build a another level of contrast into the image.  

4) Colour contrasts

Looking for tonal and colour contrasts will help perfect your black and white photos. A high tonal contrast means that the photo contains areas with both very dark and extremely bright tones. The other way to achieve this is to look for complementary colours.

Colour wheel in grey scale

Even when we take images that are predominantly white tones (high key) or predominantly dark tones (low key) there needs to be a variation so that our image has definition, depth and visual interest.

So when we say an image is flat, what we mean is there is no depth to the photo. 

If you’re unsure if you’ve managed this, check your histogram.

The first image below if what you’re not looking for, click on the image to find what you are looking for.   

A Very Narrow Tonal Contrast

Your image will look quite flat.

Great Tone

Your image will have great tones.

5) Editing

I tend to give my black and white photo’s an extra nudge in post processing. 

First, Contrast is your friend, play around with a high contrast to see where you like. I tend to add about 10 to mine. 

Make the darks darker, sometimes you want to brighten your whites but you don’t want to lose the details. By darkening the shadows and blacks even more (without clipping them) and it will make your white’s pop.  Play with the shadows and highlights to see what effect it has on your image. 

Bonus Tip: Underexpose your image by 1 or 2 stops when its extremely bright out, The grey’s become black while whites stay white.

If you want me to do a video tutorial of this, comment below and I'll make one.


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