3 Create powerful images in any light
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.