Black and white photographs are one of the most used type of edited photos. These types of pictures have endless connotations, emotional messages or a simple aesthetic vision that more than one enjoys.
But… why are there black and white photographs especial? There are plenty of reasons to say so.
Why is black and white photography better than color?
Consider the points presented above, make a comparison between two pictures, one colored and the other monochrome. The real questions should be what makes B&N pictures good.
This type of filter is not always appropriate or accurate for a photography. It depends in many factors and one would perfectly fall in the mistake of using B&W pictures for everything. One should consider some factors such as the lightning, shadows, the background, etc.
What makes good black and white photography?
There are several reason to think that a B&N filter does enhance your pictures.
Let’s check some reasons that you may not think about B&N pictures:
- We are not used to it.
It is true that we have seen thousands and thousands of duo-tonic pictures, but it is even truer that we see the world in colors everyday (except those with color blindness). A picture in B&N “obliges” us in some way to watch it in a different way. Paradoxically, the lack of color in this picture is eye-catching for many people.
- There is a story behind it.
A B&W picture is more likely to have a story behind, rather than a colored picture. There are more emotions and expressions in a picture telling a story, principally because there is no distraction of colors.
- It is harder to get a good B&N
Sometimes, when we see a colored picture, there are certain details that go unnoticed. When there is a lack of color, our eyes and our brain unconsciously help us to check more details, such as shadows for example.
- It is much more artistic.
Nobody is actually saying that a colored picture is not artistic at all. But sometimes when presenting a B&W picture, it results being much more catching and beautiful for the viewers. In a simple picture, you may find a hidden story, technical prevailing details that enhance the picture and beauty.
What does black and white mean in photography?
It is not an easy question; sometimes it is quite subjective. But the main meaning a B&W has is emotion. The next time you see a colored picture of a wedding, for example, try to edit it becoming into a B&N picture, and probably you would see that there is another “essence” in the second picture.
Sometimes it only means a better aesthetic look. Unbelievably, the absence of colors in some cases is much more meaningful and looks prettier in a picture, rather than a vibrant colorful photo.
When should you shoot black and white photos?
There are some factors that you must to take into account always when shooting: Lines, shapes and textures. If the composition of your pictures include many well defined shapes, B&W filters are an excellent option.
Why is this? This was a point already discussed above. The brain is very used to pay attention to colors, when there is a lack of colors, it focuses mostly on the shapes, textures and other technical details that makes appreciate the picture more easily.
Some good opportunities to use B&N in your pictures are:
- With High Contrast pictures: This creates a strong effect to photographs. It results much more catching for the eyes when there is a marked contrast between black tones with grey and white tones.
- To create a story: normally, B&W pictures have at least a little message behind. Maybe love, sometimes a dismal feeling or maybe talking about the passing of the life. This is reflected in the details of the photograph. As there is no color, there are other things to focus on, and these things do speak louder than words.
- When colors do not work: as we mentioned, B&W is not always accurate to use, but there are times in which colors do not work. It is simple. Sometimes there is no big contrast between them, and this “imperfections” are usually fixed when using monochrome filters.
- Bad weather days: The contrast between the clouds and other objects makes the B&W filter ideal to use. It is more striking to see a picture of a raining sky in monochromatic rather than colored.
Black and white photography ideas
You have just checked that B&W pictures are striking, useful, aesthetic and look great. Here you can see some ideas if you are interested in working with this type of photographs:
- Check the natural light and the contrast with the black
You have to think and re-think how the object or person you will shoot would look without color. For this, you have to see what things are surrounding it and how can affect the final photograph. There must be a strong dark-light contrast, both would highlight in their way and the picture as a whole would look quite good.
In the same way, pay attention to the darkness or whiteness of the background. If the background is white, choose an object with the opposite tone and vice versa.
Shooting an object in a sunbeam is an excellent way to create a silhouette in B&W tones. The light of the sunbeam highlights strikingly in a monochrome, and it is much lovelier to see. It will perfectly contrast with the rest of the objects.
Following this idea of contrast of dark and light, silhouettes are excellent ideas to make a great black and white picture. The great part of this is that you do not need a perfect white background; you only need a good contrast black subject-background and that is all.
Buildings like cathedrals, skyscrapers, etc. do look great in monochrome. Their shapes, lines and textures are much visible and striking to see without color. They look also beautiful in contrast with the sky, especially in a cloudy day.
If these ideas result too easy for you, try to check these more advanced designs:
These places are outstanding scenarios to shoot in B&W. One would normally think in a beach with the blue sky, the blue sea and the white or yellow sand. But the idea of seeing a great portrait results quite unusual but great for our eyes.
However, make sure the moment in which you take a picture in this type of locations. The strong light of the sun can make your photograph look weird or not attractive at all.
6. Motion Blur
This technique may be hard to make but the result is unbelievable. It is ideal to create a feeling or sense of movement and energy in images. Photographers usually use this to blur the background, but you can also blurred your subject in the picture to create an interesting image.
Motion blur is a great idea to use with monochrome as the lack of colors makes the background not distractive, and one can perfectly focused on the main subject if the image as well as making it stand out.
- Interesting and unusual patterns
If you want one watch a picture and focus on one single pattern (lines, shapes, etc.), probably you should use B&W filters. The presence of colors would make the photograph distractive and the patterns you want to stand out would disappear in the middle of the vibrant tones.
This technique is actually quite hard to make, but with practice and patience, the results are amazing.