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Black and white photography has become less and less popular ever since the onset of colour photographs. Recently however, there’s been a significant surge in the amount of photographers now going back to black and white photography. But the question is… why is the happening now? A lot of people believe that photographers are now going back to more conventional type of techniques to perhaps present a newer visual appeal as opposed to just pushing out the run-of-the-mill, regular coloured photographs.
It’s crucial to bear in mind that black and white photography was the very beginning of photography and does subsequently hold a dear place in the hearts of many photographers’. This is one of the reasons why it has become a bit of a trendy thing to do these days. More often than usual beginner photographers are beginning to learn black and white photography. Reason being they are still able to utilize the most up-to-date cameras and technology whilst still creating fantastic black and white photographs.
What’s So Great About Black and white photography?
This may very well be a question that simply cannot be answered, however it is more important to understand the varied unique differences between black and white as opposed to colour. First and foremost, all black and white photographs have the ability to convey a plethora of different feelings and emotions. These feelings tend to be directed at the darker side of human nature including pain, depression and a sense of loss and hopelessness as well as the ability to create an aged photograph.
In retrospect, colour photography is able to portray a much more different set of feelings that are aimed toward the more enthusiastic, passionate side of human nature. Bright colours have the ability to generate a certain sense of enthusiasm and jovialness. An additional noteworthy point is that particular colours convey differing feelings. For instance red can create a scene of passion and enthusiasm; yellow can make the viewer have a sense of happiness and joy. One thing that many photographers attempt to do is include both black and white and colour together to create a paradoxical scene so to speak. This is a technique that’s very appealing to the more advanced photographer.
In some respects colour photography might be more sought-after and desirable when it comes to sporting events and landscape photography, although black and white photography works by renowned photographers such as Ansel Adams and Edward Watson are unparalleled works of art. Another sphere is people photography where its prowess is undisputed. It was especially appreciated in the old glamour photos of the late 30s and 40s. Black and white photography’s longevity is noticeable in these old and long lasting prints that time and age hasn’t been able to compromise or damage. There are two key features that good photography should possess: The ability to stop time as well as beauty – both of which are amply present in black and white photography.
A lot of times photographers choose the incorrect type of background to use for their black and white photos. This generally affects the quality of the picture in a huge way so that irrespective of what the photographer does, the photo won’t be as visually pleasing as it should have been with the right chosen background. There are scenarios where the background doesn’t complement the photo at all, and this mistake or lack of judgement is mostly common with amateur photographers. Professional photographers generally have a selection of backgrounds that they use. Often this has a drastic effect on the quality of the image, to the point where no matter what the photographer does, the image will not be as aesthetically pleasing if it would have been shot with the correct background. For the most part, they opt to trying various backgrounds prior to choosing which of them to use. Most of them with computers also have soft copies of backgrounds which they use in post production when a picture is being edited.
In black and white photography a strong composition is even more important than in colour imagery. When composing your image it’s important to be aware of elements such as the Golden Ratio and Leading Lines too. Elements such as these will assist in pulling viewers in and maintain their interest in the absence of colour.
Lighting is obviously pivotal and hugely important in black and white photography. Lighting is always an important factor in any good photograph, however, in black and white photos proper lighting can definitely ‘make or break’ an image. Good lighting can assist in increasing the contrast within your photo, ultimately providing more interest to your portrait or it can be used to create moody contrasts and ambiance within the picture such as drama, mystery and so forth.
Shoot in Color then Convert to Black and White
Nowadays most digital cameras have the option to shoot in black and white. Always take your photos in colour first, despite whether you’re going to be converting your image to black and white. All types of information and detail is lost in the conversion when your camera internally converts your image to black and white. Instead of risking a sub-par creation, shoot your photo in colour and then convert it to black and white on your computer where you’ll have far more control of the end product.
Check Your Camera’s White Balance
Whilst the simplest and most straightforward way to use your photo editor to alternate a colour image to black and white is to desaturate the colours, this particular method does not let you have control as to how the primary colours work together in producing a grayscale brightness. Simple desaturation might be all you require to do in the software editor if you have good white balance in your picture.
Using the Right Contrast
Something that affects the quality of a black and white photography image is another common mistake that’s usually made relates to the image contrast. Many black and white photographers tend to find it tasking to adjust the features of an image in order to get the correct level of all the features. This will bring out the beauty of the overall image, primarily when other features such as brightness and texture have been done correctly.
If you’re an aspiring photographer and would like to learn the art of black and white photography, take a look at our courses for beginners and get yourself shooting as a pro today!
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