3 Cre­ate pow­er­ful im­ages in any light

Digital Photo (UK) - - MONO SPECIAL -

The great thing about shoot­ing black & white im­ages is that you don’t rely on­dy­namic light to add in­ter­est to a scene. While ex­cit­ing light­ing will en­hance any frame, plenty of shots look flat in colour but find a new lease of life when con­verted to mono. Dull, grey days are of­ten not con­sid­ered good shoot­ing con­di­tions, due to min­i­mal con­trast and muted colours, but in mono you can con­trol the con­trast af­ter­wards to in­ject some punch, trans­form­ing the scene into a worth­while cap­ture. In the same way, mist makes for washed-out colour im­ages but con­verted to mono they’re in­cred­i­bly at­mo­spheric, with a soft ro­man­tic feel.

Bright sunny con­di­tions are well-suited to mono as there’s a big dif­fer­en­tial be­tween the light­est and dark­est parts of a scene, so there’s a ready-made con­trast to be utilised. An over­head noon sun makes for un­flat­ter­ing colour shots, as the con­trast is at its strong­est, but when trans­formed to black and white the im­age has more po­ten­tial.

Stormy con­di­tions usu­ally make for fantastic black & whites as there’s plenty of con­trast in the sky, and lots of dark, brood­ing tones. Find some tex­ture, like choppy waves or coarse grasses, to use in the fore­ground to en­hance your mono im­age.

If you’re shoot­ing in low-light con­di­tions with a high ISO, con­vert­ing to black & white will help hide a few im­age qual­ity is­sues. A high ISO means lots of Noise – a loss of colour de­tail, a strong grain in the shad­ows and de­tail look­ing softer – which makes for a dis­ap­point­ing colour im­age. Trans­form­ing the im­age to mono, how­ever, will negate the loss of ac­cu­rate colours, boost­ing the blacks will di­min­ish the vis­i­ble grain and in­creas­ing the con­trast will help sharpen the shot.

Mono forces view­ers to ex­am­ine struc­ture.

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