A Beginner’s Guide to Shooting in Black and White

A Beginner's Guide to Shooting in Black and White

Black and white is a great tool to use in your photography. It can impact and really take your images to the next level. That being said, there are times when you should convert your images to b&w, and there are times when you should not. Have you ever converted an image to b&w and it just didn’t look the way you wanted it to? Chances are, that image just wasn’t a good candidate. So, let’s dive into what makes an image a good candidate to black and white photography.

check out my 5 Reasons to Convert an Image to B&W post

b&w2

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what makes a good black and white

Let’s really dive into what makes a good b&w. Because, believe it or not, not every image makes for a good black and white. I have 4 reasons images will make a good b&w.

  1. Light – if the light is good, the b&w will most likely be good
  2. Contrast – whether you have high contrast lighting, or your subject is dark against your background, contrast creates a good quality for b&w images
  3. Texture – converting a image to b&w that has awesome texture is a win!
  4. Color – when color isn’t an important part of the story, black and white it is!

reasons to not convert your image to black and white

I believe there are a few reasons why you shouldn’t convert an image to black and white. Not all of these are solid rules, they’re just general guidelines I like to follow in my own black and white.

  1. Flat light – I feel like sometimes we convert our images to black and white because the light isn’t interesting. This is not a good reason. It will leave your black and white looking very flat
  2. Distractions in the background – don’t take an image with distractions in the background, and convert to black and white to try and ‘cover’ up those distractions. You should be removing distractions before you ever press that shutter speed – this is important in any setting
  3. Color – when the color IS important to the story, don’t convert!

a beginner’s guide to shooting in black and white

I want you to consciously think about an image in b&w. Shoot for b&w. Think about ways an image will work if it’s in b&w. You can even turn your camera to a certain setting that actually only shoots in black and white. I’m so nervous to do this, but if you have the guts, do it! It will definitely improve your b&w images! When you shoot with black and white in mind, your images will turn out better.

1. when the light is pretty

I think we sometimes convert our images when the light isn’t beautiful. It should be the other way around! If you have beautiful light in your image, you can bet that the image will look good in b&w. When you are out shooting for b&w, aim to have gorgeous light.

That said, when there isn’t beautiful light, other factors and contribute to a beautiful black and white image that has dull light.

2. contrast

Think about it. You want your black and white images to have contrast. Below, the two images are edited exactly the same way, except for the left has all contrast removed, and none added! Which one looks better to you? Most likely the right one, right? Why is that? It’s because of the contrast! It makes your black and whites look deeper and richer, which is definitely what you want. That being said, if your color edits tend to have a more matte look, then your black and whites should as well. The key here is to stay consistent in your editing.

Black and White Photography Tips and Tricks

3. texture

Images with a lot of texture tend to look good in b&w. Texture could be so much as water droplets on your flowers or even a fluffy rug. Why is texture important in black and white? It helps create a sense of feeling to your viewer. When we incorporate textures into out images, it helps the viewer feel like they are there with us.

4. color

Like I have previously stated, when color doesn’t play an important part, convert to black and white. When would color play an important part? You can use color to compose your images. If you had a blue wall and a girl in pink with a pink balloon, that image wouldn’t look good in b&w, it would look washed out. You need the color to add pop and interest. However, if you have a bunch of brown in your image, like the image below, then converting to b&w can make your image pop more than what it was in color.

A Beginner's Guide to Shooting in Black and White

black and white conversion

Why do you think an image will turn out good in b&w? Please comment below!

Last thing I wanted to say is, if you’re not sure if an image will look good in black and white or not…just convert it and see! I’d love to see your creations, #alydawn_blackandwhite so that I can see and comment on your creations! Happy shooting!

Written by

I am a photographer, a wife, a sister, and now a momma to be. I strive to capture the beauty in ordinary things. I love to photograph people, places, and things that I love and cherish. I am a lover of natural light, macro, lifestyle, and dark and moody images. I am a die hard Nikon fan, I love yellow starbursts, I am a pianist, and I am obsessed with photography, maybe a little too much!

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