Photo & Notes. Choosing Black And White Photography

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Photographer Paul Outerbridge, well-known for his early use and experiment in color photography, had mentioned the difference between monochromatic and color photography; black and white imply a suggestion, but the color makes a statement. Others, like photographer Robert Frank, had seen in black and white photography symbols like hope and despair, a reflection of real life. In the search of what makes a black and white photo stunning and how to achieve it, these questions are hard to be answered.

I feel that some photos are meant to be black and white for many reasons; because in color they would look very boring and common; because their forms and lines would be lost in a saturated polyphony; because their textures and details would seem insignificant when covered by vibrant hues; because in black and white they evoke the ‘right’ sense and the feelings we want to share with them. 

How to figure out which photo to turn in black and white and which to keep in color, it’s rather a matter of intuition and taste, except the case of being an exclusively black and white photographer. The only thing you can actually control is to make the best when you create a black and white photo. And, the basic guidelines is almost the same in every tutorial and article.

○○○ shoot in raw

I find it more time-consuming. I have my memory cards and my laptop full of raw photos that I have not yet process and published. But shooting in raw is definitely the only way to save the maximum information in every photo; textures, tones, gradients, shadows recovery, more shades of gray and details in highlights are all stored in your RAW file.

○○○ use low iso


How many times I wanted to turn one of my photos in black and white only to discover that the sky or other big surfaces were full of noise, covered with small bright spots everywhere. This is very common in even things that cover a big part of the photo like the sky. A way to avoid grainy appearance is to reduce ISO. ISO 400 and under may give a satisfying result, but keep in mind to adjust shutter speed in order to have sharp images.

○○○ intensity of light matters


In a composition that lacks colors, lightened areas substitute their role; they help us distinguishing objects and areas. Choosing an hour of the day with bright sun would make our monochromatic scene more clear and dramatic because the intensity of light would make the shadows more strong and highlights more bright.

25 Best Black and White Photography Examples and Tips for Beginners on webneel.com

Chiaroscuro on wikipedia.com

Robert Frank on artsy.net


Ted Grant had written that when you photograph people in colors you photograph their clothes, but when you photograph them in Black and white you photograph their souls. Maybe all the things, not only people, hide something inside them, a kind of a ‘soul’ that is revealed to us by looking their monochromatic capture.
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10 thoughts on “Photo & Notes. Choosing Black And White Photography

  1. Πανέμορφες οι B/W φωτογραφίες σου Ιωάννα μου!!
    Μού άρεσε πολύ η τελευταία μέ τό βάθος!!
    Καλό Σ/Κ!!Φιλιά!

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  2. Για να σου την αλήθεια από φωτογραφία δεν ξέρω πολλά παρόλο που μου αρέσει αρκετά και το παιδεύω μερικές φορές όταν πρόκειται για φωτογραφίες του μπλογκ. Έχω παρατηρήσει πως με τις ασπρόμαυρες δείχνουν τα περισσότερα πράγματα ωραία και με 'άποψη'. Τράβηξα τον ανιψιό μου να κλαίει στην παραλία, στην φωτογραφία φαίνονται τα χέρια του άντρα μου που τον κρατάει και την μάνα του μικρού να τινάζει μια πετσέτα στον αέρα.. Ήταν υπέροχη φωτογραφία και παραξενευτήκαμε όλοι.. και ενθουσιάστηκα βεβαίως!!
    Οι φωτογραφίες από το γεφυράκι και την αγορά νομίζω όπως και να τις τραβούσες, και έγχρωμες δηλαδή, πάλι θα ήταν καταπληκτικές!! Καλό Σαββατοκύριακο Ιωάννα μου!

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  3. Your black&whites photos are very beautiful! I like very much the third photo, the light and B&W gives it a mysterious look. And the first photo has a fantastic POV!
    B&W can give a totaly different look to a photo, sometimes you see more details, especially when you want to focus on something. I like to experiment with b&w. I must try it more with nature photos, because I find it very difficult using it there.
    Thanks for the tips, it was very interesting to read!
    greetings, Vanessa

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  4. Οι ασπρόμαυρες είναι πάντοτε καλύτερες όταν έχουν τυχαίες και καθημερινές σκηνές με ανθρώπους, κατά την ταπεινή μου άποψη !!! Και αυτή που περιγράφεις ακούγεται πραγματικά τέλεια!!! Τα χρώματα μπορούν να “μπερδέψουν” τη σκηνή αν δεν είναι αρμονικά μεταξύ τους !!! Και το γεφυράκι και η αγορά δεν μου άρεσαν καθόλου με χρώμα!!! Υποβάθμιζε και τις υφές και την προοπτική σε αυτές τις φώτο !!! Στο τέλος βέβαια είναι πάντοτε θέμα προσωπικού γούστου και επιλογής !!! Πολλά φιλιά !!! Καλή σου μέρα !!!

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  5. Thank you so much Vanessa for your beautiful comment !!! I'm really glad you like this post !!! Nature photos with many textures and details are a great choice to experiment with bw!!! I always do it when I see interesting details, motifs or contrasts !!! You should post your photos in your blog sometime!!! Many greetings!!!

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