Black and white photography, which is associated with the old times when color could not be captured in images, has become quite popular of late. It has of course been received with mixed feelings with some saying it should be left in the past when the options to capture color were limited.
Black-and-white photography is considered by some to add a more emotional touch to the subject, compared with the original colored photography
Why Black and White Photography
The choice between mono photography and color photography is personal and each person has their own reasons for their preference. The choice however depends on the emotion/message the photographer wants to put across to his audience. Some images are best captured in color and some in black and white so one needs to know when to use it and when not to.
Every lover of black and white photography has their own reasons why the use it. Here are a few of the reasons put forward:
Not only does black and white photography adapt well to all types of lighting, it is also suitable for any photography type whether you are working on portraits, architecture, or urban landscapes. This is unlike color photography which requires perfect lighting
- No more color distractions
Color has the ability to distract focus from the subject being photographed. Taking color out in some images results in a raw and honest photograph that lets the true person stand out. The image black and white image relies on its communication ability rather than visually attractive colors.
The absence of color, the temperature difference and colorful backgrounds allows focus on other factors such as lighting, composition and other elements in the frame or out. You are no longer focused on whether the different colors blend well together.
What is lost in not being able to capture color is gained through focus on the various aspects of lighting including quality, direction and quantity. It also helps build your skill in playing with different elements of lighting to transform your photos and videos.
- Subtlety of tones
In an age where millions of colors can be displayed on devices such as TVs, black and white photography may sound boring to many. However, there are so many subtle tones in ‘mono’ photography that makes it very interesting. There is a large variety of what can be achieved with a photo.
Black and white photography offers a great deal of variety. Such photographs can be powerful with high contrast or soft and subtle. Furthermore, the process of creating black and white photographs can be very artistic and enjoyable; much like molding clay, there’s so much you can do with the photographs.
- Exercises you photographic eye
Working within the confines of a world in black and white exercises the photographic eye muscles and pushes creativity; forcing a photographer as well as the audience to see things differently.
- Helps emphasize emotion
Though not always the case, lack of color helps emphasize emotion that would otherwise be lost when the distraction of multiple colors on the subject and their background is present. Without color, the connection with subject becomes important. The sharp contrast between the emphasized blacks, soft whites and subtle grey tones draws close attention to the subject.
- classic quality
There a particular timeless quality that black and white photography lends to images.
- Better use of negative space
You can better showcase those areas in your frame that have nothing with black and white photography. It allows you to focus on the dark and light frame areas and how they relate. It also helps in separating the subject from the background and adds depth to the photograph.
- It highlights form, patterns and shapes in an image
- Helps highlight beauty and skin tones.
Pigments and other elements that would otherwise be distractive in color photography are less obvious. It provides a beautiful range between the different colors from the deepest black to the extreme white.
Creating Black and White Photographs
There are many ways you can create your own black and white images depending on the type of device you are using. Below are some ways you can convert your images to black and white:
- Cameras on mobile devices
Just about every phone or tablet has an inbuilt camera that not only allows you to take photos but also to edit them
- Digital cameras
These modern devices allow you to convert an image on the camera to black and white before or after you’ve taken the shot.
- Photo editing software on computers
You can take shots in color, upload them to your computer then use the multitude of photo editing software such as Photoshop, Pixlr, Lightroom and PicMonkey to convert them to black and white.
Some Tips For Great Black-and-White Photography
- Know when to use black-and-white. Some characteristics aren’t very well captured in black-and-white such as when trying to portray an old run down item like an old building. In such a case, color photography would show the peeling paint and old structures better.
- The subjects should not appear posed in the image but should instead look as though they don’t notice the camera. Get them in an environment where they are relaxed and comfortable.
- The environment should appear real and the subject should not look directly to the camera
- Look for interesting and natural lighting.
- Create a sense of possibility by selecting a location with a distant horizon or a pathway.
- Do not use ‘mono’ and color photography in the same image. The entire image should be in black-and-white.