By draining the light from a photograph, you can switch the emphasis from the hues and details to the basic building blocks of photography. Black and white photos force the viewer to focus on elements of the photo like the textures, shapes, tones and lighting. Without the distraction of color, viewers see the contrast in the picture through varying shades of gray rather than the specific shades of green or blue. To play up this strength of black and white photography, focus on these visual building blocks when you take pictures devoid of color.
Photography is a subjective business at best, but many professional and amateur photographers alike agree that black and white photography is an art form. Artistically speaking, shooting photos in black and white allows for the photographer’s interpretation of reality to shine through better than a color photo. To improve your own skills in this branch of photography, you should first master the basics of color photography; then apply those skills and some specific tips to create beautiful black and white photographs.
Visual Building Blocks
Learn to see the world around you in black and white to develop your skill at black and white photography. Keep an active eye out for photography subjects that would benefit from a black and white shot and those that require color. This is arguably a matter of taste, so take into account your own preferences while you develop an eye for black and white photos. Practice and improve your visualization skills by choosing a scene or moment which you feel would have a greater impact in black and white. Take the shot and check to see how it turns out. Continue to visualize shots in black and white and improve your eye.
Choose Your Subjects
You can switch to black and white mode and take pictures of anything you’d like, but some photographic subjects are especially suited to this type of format. For example, removing the color from photos of people draws the viewer’s focus to the subject’s features rather than the tonal impact of the photo. Black-and-white landscape photos bring out the patterns and shapes within the picture rather than the details. Taking black and white photos of architectural structures also makes for striking images, particularly when the building or other structure is contrasted against the sky.
Tweak Your Photos
Though many black and white photos stand on their own without editing, tweaking a few details here and there can really improve nearly any photo. While shooting, add a polarizing filter to your camera to eliminate light reflections, which may distract from the beauty of the finished photo. After shooting, use photo-editing software to make subtle tweaks to your black and white photos. Adding Silver Effex, for example, is one way to make colorless photos really pop and stand out. Adjust the hue, saturation and luminance with your chosen software to bring out features of the photo.
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