What to shoot in Black & White

Digital SLR Photography - - The Beginner ’s Guide -

in­frared if you’ve an in­frared fil­ter or a cam­era that’s been con­verted to record in­frared light, black & white pho­tog­ra­phy is your ally. colour in­frared pho­tog­ra­phy can be dif­fi­cult to do well, so most peo­ple re­move the colour casts by con­vert­ing to mono to cre­ate il­lu­mi­nant black & white land­scapes. it’s a tech­nique to try dur­ing spring and sum­mer when you can shoot in full sun and in­clude green fo­liage or grass, with plenty of sky and cloud. any greens are ren­dered chalky white, whilst blue water and sky ap­pears prac­ti­cally black.

long ex­po­sures if black & white land­scapes are about cap­tur­ing mood rather than re­al­ity, coast­lines are per­fect. their nat­u­ral min­i­mal­ism is ideal for the sim­plic­ity of mono­chrome and the scope for artis­tic treat­ment is huge. fil­ters are well placed, es­pe­cially neu­tral den­sity types, for length­en­ing ex­po­sures and re­duc­ing the sea to a smooth blur or mist. you could also fill a third of the frame with sky to cap­ture the streaks of pass­ing clouds. some nd fil­ters do tinge an im­age with a cast, which is one more rea­son to de­velop your black & white skills.

Min­i­mal­ist snowy scenes and back­lit land­scapes each have po­ten­tial for strong, graphic mono im­ages due to their high con­trast and muted colour. some­times you’ll need to help your cam­era to ex­pose cor­rectly by us­ing pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion to re­tain this con­trast. for in­stance, to avoid a snowy scene look­ing grey, add a stop of pos­i­tive com­pen­sa­tion – it will have the ben­e­fit of mak­ing stark trees al­most sil­hou­ette. for back­lit scenes, how­ever, where you want a sil­hou­ette, let the cam­era do the work and use multi- zone me­ter­ing.

HDR Black & white isn't usu­ally af­fil­i­ated with HDR as much as colour, but it should be. Brack­et­ing ex­po­sures and blend­ing them in Pho­to­shop, or ded­i­cated HDR soft­ware, like Aurora HDR or Pho­tomatix, is a bril­liant way of ex­pand­ing dy­namic range to re­veal de­tail and achieve bet­ter con­trast. Set your cam­era to shoot brack­eted ex­po­sures (- 1EV, 0, + 1EV) or you can cre­ate a mul­ti­ple ex­po­sure from a sin­gle Raw file by sav­ing an ad­justed ver­sion of the same file, be­fore merg­ing into a HDR im­age and con­vert­ing to black & white.

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