Capturing Precious Moments in the Monochrome World. Here are 5 tips to take great Monochrome photos.
“To see in color is a delight for the eye, but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.” – Andri Cauldwell
The world of monochrome photography holds a lot more than the world of colored photographs. Pick up the works of Edward Weston and Ansel Adams and you’ll know what we’re referring to. As much as colors contribute to the aesthetics of a particular photograph, one can’t really ignore the fact that they also dominate it to an extent where other elements like texture, form, shape and tonal contrast seem to fade away into the image.
Stare at a black and white image for a while and you’ll see all of these elements prominently visible in all their glory.
“Color is descriptive. Black and White is interpretive.” – Elliot Erwitt
Black and white photography leaves so much to interpretation that it’s never too much to look at – you observe something new every time you look at the same picture again.
Now when it comes to taking these pictures, digital technology has contributed to making this particular genre of photography fairly easier than it was before. However, if your shot lacks the substance required for making an ordinary subject look spectacular in monochrome, even digital technology can’t do much to fix that.
“Color is everything, black and white is more.” – Dominic Rouse
So, how do you capture powerful images in monochrome? Here are a handful of quick tips to help you with that:
It Is Important To Shoot Raw
It may seem like the raw image isn’t working, but when you convert it into monochrome, the same image transforms into a spectacular photograph. The idea is to allow yourself as much room for post-processing as you can. This way, even if you end up capturing something that looks “just okay” in black and white, you can still capitalize on it with colors.
Assess the Scene Well
We know it’s not that simple to visualize a scene in black and white. Everything around you is in color and ignoring that can prove to be challenging. Most professional cameras offer valuable monochrome modes that can be used in this instance. While you use these modes to assess the image in the frame, pay attention to the shaped, shadows, and lines that become prominent as soon as the colors disappear. Allow these elements to bloom out in your image.
Let the Textures Win
What stands out the most when you look at a monochrome image? The textures, of course – and obviously the ones that aren’t front-lit. The detail and contrast makes different textures a gripping subject for monochrome photography. Why else do you think weathered antiques and barns turn out to be so compelling in black and white?
Focus on Patterns
The repetitive nature of patterns makes them an interesting subject for photography in general. However, when you’ve got a colored pattern, the eye is naturally attracted to the color instead of the pattern itself. Remove the colors and you can then concentrate on the distinct patterns in virtually everything from chairs arranged linearly in a wedding to the bend in the trees on a windy day, to the windows on the photo above!
Don’t Forget the Grays
Monochrome images are all about contrast – black and white. It’s what adds a new dimension to the image capturing the interest of the eye. However, if the same image lacks areas of grays – in different shades – it is highly likely that the photograph will mostly appear dull and drab. You don’t want that happening. So, always keep some room for the grays.
Take these tips and make your own collection of monochrome photographs. Remember, it may be a while before you master it, so keep trying. Don’t look for perfection, just aim for improvement!
Feel free to add your tips in the comments below. We would love to add to the list.