Black and White Photography Tips - 4 Things You Can Do

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These black and white photography tips will help you to recognize good black and white photo subjects and to be able to photograph and edit these for the best effects.

The reason so many photography courses and schools teach black and white photography early on is that it is an excellent way to train the eye to recognize what makes a striking composition.

As amazingly beautiful as a colorful sky may be, it is the lines, shapes and curves that move the eye through the photo. So while the colors can be quite beautiful, black and white makes the photo more dynamic.

Despite all of its benefits, black and white photography became less popular in the 70's and 80's because of the popularity of color. It soon became difficult to find places to process black and white film, and stores didn't always carry it. Now thanks to digital cameras and photo editing software, black and white photography is back!

How to Recognize Stunning Black and White Photographs

Although choosing the best subjects for black and white is very subjective, many professional photographers will agree that the following types of compositions beg for black and white:

  • Photos that convey strong emotion. Color can be a distraction, while black and white lends power to the feeling expressed.
  • Images that don't have a full spectrum of colors like Ansel Adam's Yosemite "Moon and Half Dome."
  • Low contrast images such as photographs shot on dark overcast days.
  • Any subject with the lines, contours, shadows and curves that you just know will look great in black and white. How can you tell? By getting familiar with a variety of black and white images! Just look online for "Ansel Adams.". Or you can just search for "famous black and white photos."
  • Look at B&W photography books at the library. There are many places to appreciate and learn this artful form of photography!

Create Black & White Photography with a Photo Editor

Once you see a subject and know it would like best in black and white, then you can always set your camera to B&W and take it. But once you get experience with using your photo editing software, you'll find that you can create even better black and white images by shooting in color first and then desaturating it in the editor. Another added benefit to this method is that you'll never accidentally take a day's worth of pictures in black and white because you forgot to reset the camera!

Check the White Balance on Your Camera

While the easiest and simplest way to use your photo editor to change a color image to black and white is to desaturate the colors, this method doesn't allow you to control how the primary colors work together to produce a grayscale brightness. If you have good white balance in your picture, then simple desaturation may be all you need to do in the software editor.

Make Use of Your Photo Editor's Color Swatches

By using a photo editor, you can also apply color swatches. Even though we don't see the colors in black and white, there are tones, and these are created by colors. Color swatches work a lot like the way color lenses work on a SLR camera. For instance, camera filters in the yellow to orange range look great with skin tones while green adds wonderful natural tones to outdoors pictures.

And finally, don't forget to show off your black and white photographs. Beautiful black and white photos deserve to be framed for all to see. You should select picture frames that showcase your image with simple clean lines rather than distract from it. Hopefully, this article has inspired you to take more black and white photographs!


Autumn Lockwood is a writer for Your Picture Frames. Enjoy the stylish look of these jeweled pictures and the old fashioned charm of our antique frames. Go online and shop anytime or call 1-800-780-0699 for a great customer experience.

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