A DAY OUT WITH MONO

Set your­self the chal­lenge of shoot­ing in B&W and see how it can trans­form your photography

Digital Photo (UK) - - CAPTURE -

1 Al­ways use a tri­pod

For the best mono im­ages, set your cam­era to shoot RAW. This means you’ll ac­tu­ally be cap­tur­ing a colour file and while at first this may seem counter-in­tu­itive, you can cre­ate a bet­ter black & white con­ver­sion when you have the full colour in­for­ma­tion of a RAW to work from. RAW gives you more con­trol over tones and con­trast, lets you res­cue lost high­light and shadow de­tail and doesn’t suf­fer im­age com­pres­sion, so your shots don’t ditch any data when they are saved and main­tain max­i­mum qual­ity.

To help you vi­su­alise your fi­nal shots and see how they might look, set your cam­era’s cus­tom Pic­ture Con­trols to Mono­chrome in the shoot­ing menu. This means the im­age dis­played on the back of your cam­era will be in black & white, but the RAW file recorded to your mem­ory card will still be a full colour file. To save the mono ver­sion you view, set your cam­era to shoot RAW + JPEG. The RAW file is your mas­ter copy to edit from, with the JPEG act­ing as a sketch to show how the fi­nal im­age might look.

Hav­ing set up your file for­mat, you need to set the ex­po­sure. For most mono shots, it’s best to use Aper­ture pri­or­ity. This gives you con­trol over the depth-of-field and the light sen­si­tiv­ity of the cam­era, but the shut­ter speed will be set au­to­mat­i­cally to pro­duce a bal­anced ex­po­sure. The depth-of-field is gov­erned by the se­lected f/ num­ber. A low f/num­ber, like f/4, means the lens has a wide aper­ture which pro­duces a shal­low depth of field, so the space be­hind and in front of your fo­cal point falls off into a soft blur. Use this when shoot­ing por­traits or street scenes to smooth out back­ground clut­ter.

A high f/num­ber, like f/16, means the aper­ture is nar­row and a larger depth-of-field is cre­ated, which is ideal for land­scapes and ar­chi­tec­ture where you want to have sharp­ness through­out the im­age. When shoot­ing with a nar­row aper­ture, less light is able pass through the lens and your cam­era will be us­ing a slower shut­ter speed which puts you at risk of cam­era shake, so it’s ad­vis­able to use a tri­pod to sta­bilise it.

With your cho­sen aper­ture se­lected you need to also set the ISO, which con­trols the sen­si­tiv­ity of the cam­era. Un­der most cir­cum­stances you want to keep your ISO set­ting low to pre­vent Noise from ap­pear­ing in your shots, or the im­age qual­ity will suf­fer. You can al­ways add grain later on when edit­ing your shots if that’s the look you’re af­ter.

A tri­pod keeps your cam­era steady, which is es­sen­tial dur­ing long ex­po­sures.

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