Classic black and white
It’s not just about how you process your images, it’s about seeing the world itself in a whole new way…
10 ways to shoot successful monochrome images, from landscapes to still lifes to portraits
Photography started out in monochrome because that’s all the materials of the time could record, but something unexpected came out of this technical limitation. It became apparent that black-and-white images could have a simplicity and power all their own, and black-and-white photography is still going strong, decades after colour imaging became a mass-market product available to all.
But what makes a good black-and-white photograph? After all, they’re not all good. How is it you can you add to an image by taking something away? And what subjects work best in black-and-white?
To find out, we’ve picked ten classic blackand-white subjects from our own collection of images and from top monochrome photographers around the world. We’ve talked to the photographers to find out why they chose black-and-white, what equipment and techniques they used, and what processing steps they used on the computer. Many of these pictures were converted to black-and-white from colour originals, so we’ve also printed the colour version as a comparison. We don’t just want to to say that the black-andwhite version is best, we want to prove it! Many were processed using special techniques and plug-ins so, where applicable, we’ve explained what these were and why they were used.
The technicalities are the easy part, however. The real challenge is learning to see the world not in colour but as patterns of light and shade, as shapes and textures. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it straight away. If you keep on shooting you’ll soon start to notice how some images, subjects and lighting situations work brilliantly in black-and-white.
We hope the ten shots we’ve selected for this feature will give you a head start and inspire you to try black-and-white photography for yourself.
CHURCH, ICELAND Jonatha n Chritchle y Nikon D800, Zeiss 21mm Distagon, 20 secs, f/ 18, ISO100, Lee .6 Grad filter