Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Secrets Of Black & White
Learn to see and shoot differently for your best monochrome images ever
In recent years, black-and-white has gained new attention and appreciation. Software makers are offering increasingly capable tools for custom black-and-white conversions, and most photo printers address the unique needs of black-and-white printing with special inks and settings. Use the following tips to help you create distinctive black-and-white images.
Black-and-white is so different that sometimes you have to forget what you know about photographing in color. It isn’t simply changing the camera to a black-and-white setting or removing color in Photoshop. When you want the best in black-and-white, you need to start thinking in black-and-white (this also applies to choosing images for conversion from color to black-and-white).
Here are some things to consider when shooting:
1. Look for tones and their differences, not color. Finding distinct differences in brightness of tones really is key for black-and-white images.
2. Forget color.
3. Base your composition on tonal differences. Contrasts between tones will define and structure your composition.
4. Ignore color.
5. Work with dramatic light. Too often, dull light gives muddy-looking black-and-white images.
6. Did I mention that color can easily distract you when you’re working with black-and-white?
7. Try squinting. If you squint, you see less detail in a scene and more of the distinct tones that will become blacks, whites and grays.
8. Watch out for big areas of blank white. This is especially a problem with skies. Blank white in black-and-white scenes can distract from nice tonalities in the rest of the photo.
9. Be cautious with large areas of pure black. You often can get away with a dramatic photo with a lot of black in it; however, these areas also can just look visually dead to a viewer.
10. And, of course, forget about color. I know, it may seem like I’ve overly stressed the color bit, but it’s so easy to be distracted by color and to forget that the viewer of your black-and-white final image will have no reference to the colors of the original scene.
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