black and white photography tip of the day

Reading about a black and white photography tip in our colorful world may seem a bit unusual for your. After all, why they heck would you want to eliminate all those beautiful colors from your favorite subject?

black and white landscape photo of AlaskaOriginally shot in color. Black and White Landscape Photo of Denali Alaska

There is something special, classic and elegant, sometimes even romantic about black and white images that's been lost. You can also get a special historical feeling when you view this kind of photograph. So what's the best tip for black and white photography?

ALWAYS SHOOT IN COLOR!

There's always been an ongoing argument. Should you shoot your photos in color first and convert them to Black + White later? On the surface, the easy answer is yes.

When first learning photography, the simplicity of black and white forced me to focus on the lighting and compositional aspects of photography first. With digital photography you can easily turn a drab color shot into an amazing black and white.

Black and white vs color comparison of skyline

Arguments for Shooting in Color FIRST


If you shoot your original images in color you can always convert to black and white later and keep your the color version in tact.

It's only a quick one-button click in your photo editing software to do a conversion, although you can get much better results by experimenting rather than doing the quick one-click method.

Black and white portrait photograph-27

It's the easy way to get both. If you set your digital camera setting to black and white or sepia mode, the beautiful colors in the shot are lost forever. This portrait shows why black and white photography will always have an appeal on some level.

This gentleman's character lines in his face are revealed so well in this pose. On the other hand you may want to shoot and light with black and white photography in mind as the end result. 

Arguments against Shooting in Color

When you’re shooting in a black and white camera mode, you’re forced into a creative situation when you depress the shutter. You have to look at textures, lines and shapes, shadows and contrasts.

It makes you work harder, pre-visualize and analyze the elements of your photograph. Often if you have to work harder on one aspect of your photography, the qualities of your photo are better. Because a black and white photo relies so much on shadows to define shapes and details, your approach to lighting is even more important than ever.

Black and white photo of rocks"Creamy Waves on Rocks" Conowingo Dam, Maryland. Black and White.


Another black and white photography tip is to remember that you will be able to experiment with contrast.

This dog portrait has a real unique appeal because of the high contrast that was added to the photograph. 


When you are taking a portrait of someone, dressing your subject in black clothing creates an interesting opportunity. In this color portrait of this cowboy, because of the black clothing, only his face seems to be in color. It's important to keep the background black, white or a shade of gray.

Color muted black and white portrait comparison

This is an excellent portrait also because of the pose, the photography lighting and the subject's relaxed expression. In this second version of the cowboy portrait, I reduced the saturation.

One effect that may not be desirable when reducing the saturation is when your subject has colorful eyes. When photographing people, the element of age can be emphasized. A close-up portrait of an aged face shows all the wisdom lines and features developed from their years.

This can have a much greater impact in black and white.Also, on the flip side of that, the smoothness of a young person's skin is revealed when there is no color and the smooth texture is emphasized.


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Happy Shooting!