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Black and white

From: The Elements of Effective Photographs

Video: Black and white

I love black-and-white photography. It's all I shot for years. I learned to see in black and white while watching an old black-and-white TV set in my living room. I discovered how different colors translate into different shades of gray. Do you remember the colors of these folders? The conversion may not be quite what you expect. The blues are lighter, the reds are darker, and in the old days of film, we adjusted for this with filters. For example, to darken a blue sky, we would use the yellow or red filter.

Black and white

I love black-and-white photography. It's all I shot for years. I learned to see in black and white while watching an old black-and-white TV set in my living room. I discovered how different colors translate into different shades of gray. Do you remember the colors of these folders? The conversion may not be quite what you expect. The blues are lighter, the reds are darker, and in the old days of film, we adjusted for this with filters. For example, to darken a blue sky, we would use the yellow or red filter.

Now, this is still possible if you choose to capture in a black-and-white mode of your digital camera. But you know what? With digital photography you can turn any photograph into a black-and-white image simply by adjusting the saturation in your processing software. So for this reason, I recommend that you shoot RAW in color to have the maximum flexibility when you process your images. The question you should ask yourself though is, why do you want your photo in black and white? Here are some of the reasons I choose black-and-white.

The message in my photograph will have much more impact. This photograph is so striking that I think color would've gotten in the way. The lighting is so bad that it distracts from the image. Evenly lit florescent rooms are a killer. The textures and shapes will support the composition and add interest. The texture of the ivy contrasts very nicely with that of the doll's face. Another reason is that the treatment will add artistic value to the final print.

This looked, felt, and smelt like a scene from the 1940s. Now if you're going to convert your images to black and white, there are some things you should consider when you're shooting. Black-and-white photos can be made under any light, but you will probably be a bit more successful if you shoot in soft light without intense shadows, like on a cloudy day or after sunset or before sunrise. But please, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that high-contrast light never produces great black and white--it does.

This shot was taken at 3 in the afternoon. You just have to make sure that your exposure gives you details in the shadows without overexposing the highlights. So now that we've talked about the why, let's talk about the how. In the next video I will show you some ways to convert your RAWs to black and white.

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The Elements of Effective Photographs

29 video lessons · 25332 viewers

Natalie Fobes
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