In a world full of vibrant colours, why would a photographer want to create black and white photographs? While there are lots of reasons why a photographer may choose to go with this style, the main one is that black and white photographs have a timeless element to them that cannot be replicated in colour photographs. Creating amazing black and white photographs involves two steps, compositing and post-processing. It is the former that we will be focusing on today. Beginners oftentimes start with black and white photography thinking it’s simple and easy to learn. The thing is if your composition is not at par, it is when a monochromatic photo starts looking amateurish. Thus, we’ve created this bonus code in our beginners guide solely focusing on composition tips for black and white photos.
Photograph Elements and Qualities
Successful black and white photography largely depends on the photographs you start with. Ideally, the photo you choose should have lots of contrast in tone and colour, different textures that you can play off of, lines that help pull a viewer’s eye, and a subject that can be the centre of attraction for the finished image. All of these elements work well together to make the final black and white photo look stunning.
The best black and white photographs are the ones that have only a single subject to focus on. That could be a boat, a person, a building or even a watch. When doing your photo composition, ensure that you capture the shape, lines and textures of the subject in focus. When focusing on a single subject like this, it would also be a good idea to get in as close as possible and use a wide aperture. This will make the background look blurry, which will be great once you get into post-processing.
The next aspect of photo composition we will look at in this beginner’s guide to photography is colour. There are two ways to think about colours; monochromatic colours and contrasting colours. If the subject chosen has one main colour, it makes for a great black and white photograph once the process is complete as you already have the monochromatic look you are going for.
When the subject has contrasting colours, that give you a lot more options and freedom when processing the image. These contrasting colours can give you different mixes of black, white and greys that you can play with during the processing.
Use Your Camera for Visualization
Your camera is your greatest tool when it comes to black and white composition. You can use your camera to visualize what the final image is done when you are done processing it. Many modern cameras come with a black and white setting that lets you see how the image will look before you take the photo. If you are taking RAW photographs, your camera likely has a bonus code that overlays the black and white filter over the photographs you take. This allows you to have both the colour and black and white version of the image when editing.
Black and white photography is so exciting because you never know what gem you will come up with once you start editing. Composition is an important step as it plays a huge role in how the photographs come out and so it should be something that all photographers master.