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Black and white photography, why you should try it.

Updated on March 14, 2015
Statue
Statue

Photo projects

Book on special landscape projects that will make you a better photographer.

Digital Photos

Many people like to shoot black and white photos, the main reason being, some pictures look much better in black and white than in color. The great thing about digital over film is that you can shoot it in color, and change it to black and white in the computer. If you want to print the shot in black and white, you should plan for it when you are shooting. Don't think of it as color shot, think in terms of shadows, texture, direction of light, shapes, lines and shades of gray.

When looking at the shot, focus on these elements, try to look past the color and look for light and textures. One of the problems you can run into, make sure look for contrast between the shades. An example, a red ball laying on green grass has a lot of contrast in color. When you convert it to black and white, the shades are almost the same, you will lose all the contrast that you saw with your eyes.

Black and white digital photos

Komodo dragon
Komodo dragon

Black and white photography can also be used to fix many color shots that don't work in color. Shots with blown out sky or just drab looking can many times be made into a great shot, if the subject is interesting. Many portraits photos with a contrasting background can also look very good in black and white.

Use the light to bring out the textures and shapes of what the subject of the shot is. If you can use low angle light or a beam of light coming through clouds or trees. You can do some really exiting things to have the texture and shapes jump out. To really show texture, you need to have shadows, this gives the texture big contrast.

mountain lion
mountain lion

Some digital camera's will allow you to switch to black and white shooting. You can do this for looking at the shot and checking it out. You should shoot the photos in color when you are ready shoot. It may be the greatest color shot ever, it's very hard to recolor a digital shot, it can be done but it is a lot of work. It's best to always have the option for either color or black and white. You should also always shoot in raw mode if you have that option. Raw gives you much more control of the final look of the photos.

If you want to get some really cool and interesting looks, see if your digital camera will shoot infrared light. Take a television remote, look through your camera viewer, push a button on the remote with it pointing at the camera. If you can see the light from the front of the remote, your camera can see infrared light. You just need to get and ir filter to put on the lens and you can get some really cool shots. The shot of the statue below was shot with an infrared filter at Como Park in St Paul.

statue using infrared filter
statue using infrared filter
St Paul Cathedral
St Paul Cathedral

To convert your color shots to black and white.  There are a few ways to do it.  The easiest way is to open the shot and adjust the saturation to 0.  This is generally not the best way to do it.  The results will be rather flat and not much contrast.  A better method is to use the channel mixer in your software.  Open the photo, open the channel mixer and select monochrome.  Adjust the different channels until you get the best looking shot.  You can then adjust it more with contrast.  You can then dodge or burn in parts of the shot to get the exact look you want.

male lion
male lion

To see what looks best, go online and look at different black and white photos.  When you see ones that you like, study them and see what it is that you really like about them.  Even take notes if you want to remember what you like.  I have many shots that I have in a file on my computer that I look through once in a while, just to keep in my mind what I am looking for when I shoot black and white.

It can take a lot of work and a lot of studying to get the shot perfect.  It's all worth it when someone see's a print on your wall and says, wow!

bucket in the woods
bucket in the woods
outhouse
outhouse
Statue at park
Statue at park
statue
statue
statue
statue
Egret in lake
Egret in lake
calm lake
calm lake
sculpture with infrared filter
sculpture with infrared filter
old road with infrared
old road with infrared
statue with a blind effect on it
statue with a blind effect on it
split rock light house
split rock light house
Tiger
Tiger
wolf
wolf

Conclusion

All the shots that have the leaves that look real white were shot with an infrared filter.  They were all adjusted and some parts dodged and burned to get the desired effect. 

For some other good photo tips, read these.

Shoot great flowers

Organize your photos

How to choose the perfect digital camera

Comments

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    • JanMaklak profile image

      JanMaklak 

      6 years ago from Canada

      great work and you obvioulsy have a keen understanding of the process of B&W

    • photobackdrop profile image

      photobackdrop 

      7 years ago from Michigan

      Love black and white photography. It brings out the best of it.

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