To take pictures in black and white it is necessary to take into account some factors: the contrast, the landscape, and the lines of the buildings.
A black and white image always has its charm. Contrary to what one might think, taking a picture in this way is not always easy. Some simply apply filters to give the desired effect, but the effect is not always the desired one.
To enhance our black and white photos, as mentioned, the use of a filter set by default may not be enough. For this, you need to put into practice some tips to be performed within the photo editing software. Like for example Photoshop. The operations are not difficult, just a little practice is enough. Furthermore, some of the tips that we will see can also be applied to the editing system present by default on almost all major smartphones. Or they can be made by simply downloading an application.
1. Seeing in black and white
The first thing to do before shooting is to carefully look at the subjects or the landscape highlighted. We begin to guess how the black and white photo will come out if we shoot in those particular conditions. We pay attention to the background and try to understand if the subjects to be put in the foreground will be enhanced or not with the loss of colors. This is certainly the hardest piece of advice to put into practice, as it requires experience. But it will be enough to start taking some photos to get carried away in no time.
2. Fundamental aspects
Any black and white photo is based on contrast. Therefore this is the aspect to be taken into greater consideration. To identify a subject that lends itself to black and white photos, just look at its lines, its shape, and its shadows. The more these aspects are marked the greater are the chances that the black and white photo will come out well. Even the shadow is just as important as the light. When we see a very bright image that has different details, such as leaves, stones, or people in the foreground, then it might be worth using black and white. With colors, intense light may less enhance some details. The black and white instead will serve to give a touch of sharpness to every single aspect.
3. When not to shoot in black and white
There are some subjects and some conditions that don’t particularly lend themselves to black and white photos. If the lighting conditions are not the best we avoid using black and white in the photos that also show part of the sky. If this is very gray the result in the photo will be a white spot which gives a minimalist effect to the shot. We also avoid black and white images that are based on bright colors. Without color, we will take away the vitality of the scene. Finally, we always avoid black and white on scenes with contrasting colors. For example, two purple flowers on a green lawn in black and white have no particular contrast while in color they have an excellent yield.
4. Lines and angles
Structures such as buildings, skyscrapers, and large offices can be the best subjects for a black and white photo. But the same is also true for trees and rocks. In general, straight lines, very square corners, and plays of light are ideal for a shot of this type. To enhance the shapes, lighting with high contrast is better. If, on the other hand, we use artificial light, position it laterally with respect to the subject. This will create sharp shadows that give a sense of perfect stillness to the scene. One of the most popular and most used ways to get simple but very impactful black and white images is to use long exposures. This technique will make water and clouds smooth and smoky, focusing all attention on stationary objects. To take pictures like this we have to use a tripod and expose it for more than five seconds.
Contrast as we have seen is everything but sometimes, especially with a white or very light background, we can take photos in black and white using a very intense brightness. This way we will generate an extremely sharp and light shot. These shots are recommended for capturing still lifes or for shooting landscapes with snow.