Black and white

August 01, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Black and white images are still appealing, and why not, they can be striking.

So how do we decide to go black and white? What makes for a good black and white image? The biggest lesson I can share with you is that black and white images only work well if you photograph what the name (black and white) suggests. In other words, there needs to be a lot of contrast that will make deep blacks and bright whites. Having just a gray image in the black and white medium is as dull as having a color image with no real color.

Castle Window, Ghana Post-processing is very important in black and white photography. We want to stretch the histogram so that both the bright side (right) and the dark side (left) are near the edges of the histogram. In fact, I have just a little of the black as true black. However, I leave no true white on any image. Rather, I pull pure white back a little so that there is detail in the white. This will make for nice prints.

Castle Stairs, Ghana

So look out for contrasty scenes. I still shoot these scenes in full color. I prefer to convert the image to black and white in post-processing. Remember that composition is driven by contrast in black and white images. It takes a bit of practice but the photographer needs to start seeing the image in black and white. The visualization is important, for you need it in order to decide on your composition.

          Oftentimes, high ISO images work well in black and white. For some reason, grain is not so offensive in black and white images as it is in color images. In color images, high ISO introduces noise which impacts color and introduces color artifacts. To me, noise is ugly (it may enhance certain kinds of images, but they are rare for me personally). When noisy color images are converted to black and white the color in the noise disappears and leave leaves only grain rather than color noise.

          Take the challenge and experiment with some black and white images.


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