HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS

What are the key elements to make my black and white photos look better?

The Annual presentation of “THE ART OF BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY” WILL BE COMING UP ON NOVEMBER 1ST, 2018!  THE BEST BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS FROM THE BEST BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHERS WILL BE PRESENTED AT THAT TIME.

WILL YOURS BE ONE OF THEM?

TO TAKE WINNING PHOTOS OF BLACK AND WHITE TAKES MORE THAN JUST SNAPPING PHOTOS AND THEN CONVERTING THEM INTO BLACK AND WHITE.  THERE IS TRULY AN ART TO TAKING GOOD BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS.  I WANT TO RUN A SPECIAL PRESENTATION AGAIN ON THE “ART OF BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS”  AND GIVE SOME POINTERS AS TO WHAT I AM LOOKING FOR IN DECIDING WHAT PHOTO IS A WINNING BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO.  LET ME GIVE YOU THE TIPS THAT I LOOK FOR IN A GREAT BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO:

1-  SUBJECT MATTER

 WILL THIS PHOTO THAT YOU TAKE LOOK BETTER WITH THE ABSENCE OF COLOR?  SOMETIMES I LOOK AT A COLLECTION OF PHOTOS AND THINK:  THAT SHOULD HAVE REMAINED IN COLOR.  IF IT LOOKS BETTER IN COLOR, THEN LEAVE IT IN COLOR.  THAT IS A DIFFICULT DECISION TO MAKE, BUT, A GOOD BLACK AND WHITE WILL LOOK BETTER IN BLACK AND WHITE THAN COLOR.  LOOK AT THE ABOVE PHOTO.  THAT IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF GREAT USE OF BLACK AND WHITE.  WOULD IT MAKE A GOOD COLOR PHOTO?  I DON’T SEE IT.

2- SHAPE AND FORM:

SOMETIMES WHEN YOU TAKE OUT COLOR, THE EYES HAVE TO RELY ON THE SHAPES AND DESIGNS TO ATTRACT YOUR ATTENTION  TO THE SUBJECT:  FORMS AND LINES CREATE AN INTRIGUING ASPECT OR COMPOSITION OF DIFFERENT SHAPES.  COLOR THEN BECOMES NOT IMPORTANT AT ALL.

3- PATTERN:

Photo by tmc tmc

PATTERNS SEEM MORE IMPORTANT IN SHOOTING IN BLACK AND WHITE THAN IN COLOR.  YOU NEED REPETITION, OR INTERESTING PATTERNS TO CREATE A GOOD PHOTO IN BLACK AND WHITE.  IT DRAWS MORE INTEREST TO THE VIEWER.  I WOULD THINK THAT IF YOU HAD SOME GOOD BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS HANGING IN A BUILDING, YOU WOULD ALWAYS SEE SOME THAT HAD SOME PHOTOS OF PATTERN PHOTOS.

 

4- TEXTURE:

TEXTURE IS ONE OF THE MOST CRITICAL THINGS TO A GOOD BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO BECAUSE WITHOUT IT, YOU DON’T HAVE DEPTH TO THE PHOTO, AND YOU WOULD HAVE JUST A PLAIN BORING PHOTO.  THIS ALSO ADDS THE NECESSARY CONTRAST THAT YOU NEED TO BRING THE BLACK AND WHITE SOME “PIZZAZZ”.

5- COMPOSITION:

ALL THE RULES OF COMPOSITION SEEM TO BE MORE IMPORTANT IN BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY THAN IN COLOR.  REMEMBER ALL THE RULES DOWN TO THE “TEE” WITH EVERY SHOT, BECAUSE IT WILL MEAN WHETHER IT BECOMES A WINNER OR NOT.

MAKE SURE YOU USE LEADING LINES, THE RULE OF THIRDS,  FRAMING THE PHOTOS IN SCENERY PHOTOS, ETC.  WATCH ALL THE RULES OF COMPOSITION TO MAKE SURE YOU GET INCREDIBLE COMPOSED PHOTOS.

6- AVOID NOISE:

HOW DO YOU AVOID NOISE IN A BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO?  BY NOT USING A HIGH ISO SETTING.  IF YOU ARE SHOOTING IN COLOR FIRST, BE AWARE THAT WHEN YOU CONVERT IT TO BLACK AND WHITE, YOU WILL INCREASE THE NOISE.  SO, WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE END IN MIND?  IF IT IS TO CREATE A BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO, THEN BE CAREFUL TO USE YOUR ISO SETTING AT A LOWER NUMBER, IF AT ALL POSSIBLE.  I WOULD RECOMMEND AT LEAST 200 OR LOWER.  THERE IS AN INTERESTING FACTOR IN NEWER CAMERAS, HOWEVER.  THE NEWER CAMERAS, I WOULD SAY THE 2018 CAMERAS AND NEWER, SEEM TO HAVE GREATLY REDUCED THE NOISE IN USING HIGH ISO SETTINGS.  I HAVE SEEN PHOTOS USED NOW AT EXTREME HIGH ISO SETTINGS THAT SHOW VERY, VERY LOW NOISE, TO THE POINT YOU WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT WAS SHOT AT 100 OR 200 ISO.  BUT, WHATEVER YOUR CAMERA IS THAT YOUR SHOOTING, BE AWARE OF THE NOISE THAT IS CREATED WITH YOUR BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS.  I HAVE SEEN PHOTOS THAT THE ARTIST USED NOISE ON PURPOSE TO CREATE SOMETHING SPECIAL IN HIS PHOTOS.  THE CHOICE IS YOURS, AND IF THAT IS THE CASE, IT WILL BE CHOSEN IF IT IS A WINNER.

7- CONTRAST HAS TO BE NEAR PERFECT:

YOU HAVE TO HAVE EITHER REALLY HARSH CONTRAST OR GREAT GREY TONES.  DEPENDING ON YOUR PHOTO, MAKE SURE THE CONTRAST IS PERFECT.  SOMETIMES WHEN I WAS JUDGING BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS, I WOULD SEE A GREAT COMPOSED PHOTO, BUT THE CONSTRAST WAS NOT GOOD.  SOMETIMES WHAT TURNED OUT TO BE THE MOST PERFECT CONTRAST IN GREAT BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS WAS A GOOD PORTRAIT.  SO HARD TO GET THAT PERFECT IN BLACK AND WHITE.  I WANT TO SHOW YOU 2 PORTRAITS IN BLACK AND WHITE THAT I THOUGHT WERE BETTER IN BLACK AND WHITE THAN IN COLOR:

Photo taken by:  Laszlo Haar

 

Photo taken by:  Gregory Giakis

THE REASON THESE TWO PORTRAITS WERE CHOSEN AS WINNING PHOTOS IN “THE ART OF BLACK AND WHITE” WAS BECAUSE THE CONTRAST AND THE EXPOSURE ON THEIR SKIN TONES WAS PERFECT.  THE GREY TONES, AND THE REST OF THE CONTRAST WAS, TO ME, INCREDIBLE.  NOW, I COULD SHOW YOU HUNDREDS OF PORTRAITS I SAW IN THE SAME TIME FRAME, THAT JUST LOOKED LIKE, WHAT I CALL: MUDDY GREY TONES.  AND THESE WERE JUST SO NICE.  I FELL IN LOVE WITH THESE TWO PORTRAITS BECAUSE OF THE PERFECT EXPOSURE AND PERFECT GREY TONES IN THE BLACK AND WHITE.

 

CONCLUSION:

MAKE SURE THE BLACKS ARE BLACK, THE WHITES ARE WHITE, AND THE GREY’S ARE GREY.  AND I WOULD SAY TO WATCH OUT FOR THE “MUDDY GREY TONES”.  MAKE SURE YOU ARE LOOKING FOR PHOTOS WITH THE CONTRAST THAT LOOK LIKE THESE ABOVE PHOTOS.

I LOOK FORWARD AGAIN TO FINDING GREAT BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS THAT WILL WIN AND BE PRESENTED IN “THE ART OF BLACK AND WHITE” IN THE NEAR FUTURE.  THOSE FACEBOOK GROUPS THAT SPECIALIZE IN THIS WILL BE HIGHLIGHTED AGAIN TO SHOW OFF THEIR TALENTS.

 

Article written by Lanny Cottrell for 123PhotoGo.  

 

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