This continues the mini-series on black and white (B&W) photography. Check out Part I for tips on what types of images lend themselves to B&W. I really like trying monochrome processing with any shot, because you never know until you see the image. A few things to keep in mind while shooting B&W:
- See in B&W: This can be tough to do, since we see all day everyday in color. One thing to try is setting up your camera to display in black and white while shooting. If you’re shooting in RAW (which you should be), the image is still recorded in color. It just displays in B&W on the LCD. Also try going out and shooting only B&W, as an exercise. Shoot Jpegs and deliberately limit yourself to B&W. I don’t recommend doing this regularly though; give yourself options by shooting RAW.
- Look for Texture: As mentioned in the last post, textures are just made for B&W. That’s because color often distracts us from the underlying texture of a scene. Remove it and voila! Interesting textural patterns are revealed. Many people have too limited a view of texture. They think of peeling paint, tree bark, or a patterned rock wall. That is texture at one scale. In reality texture comes in all sizes, from the very fine to much larger patterns. Try to get used to looking for texture in all its forms.
- Don’t Forget the Basics: The same principles of composition that make color images work apply to B&Ws as well. Limit the “junk” in your comps., and seek balanced scenes that are interesting and pleasing to the eye.
- Go for Monochrome Scenes: These are situations where the light and your subject are already monochrome, either nearly or completely so. Often it’s when the light is quite low, since light begets color. When things are already nearly monochrome, it’s quite easy to see and shoot monochrome images (funny how that works!).
- Get in the Mood: Finally, try to feel the mood of a scene and shoot it accordingly. Foggy and mysterious is the obvious one, but there are many other moods, including bright, contrasty and optimistic. Try to mentally impose different post-processing looks, such as toned to sepia, high-key, low-key, and so on. For example, with a monochrome scene that is already a bit dim, I’ll try to imagine what it might look like even darker and toned with a subtle sepia or cyan.
Okay that’s it for today. Stay tuned for more on black and white. Have a great weekend and get out there!