What to Shoot in Black & White
Street Photography there are some types of portraits that can’t be controlled: street photography requires you to seek out ways of capturing people as they go about their daily lives. street photography is raw documentary storytelling, which is why monochrome suits it so well, but you have to look for areas of light and dramatic shadows to elevate your images from the realms of ‘ snapshot’. street lamps at night, reflected light off glass buildings or strong backlighting for silhouettes are all extremely popular options.
high- key a bright backlight, bright skin tones and light- coloured clothing, with perhaps even a couple of stops of positive exposure compensation for good measure, and you’ve got the makings of a high- key image. it’s imperative that you use your histogram to check for detail being lost in the highlights when shooting this style of image, but filling a scene with light and ridding it of any hard shadows can create some amazing monochrome images, especially of women and babies, where softness is a visual virtue.
Low- key Images with predominantly dark tones are called low- key and generally contain areas with a lot of dense shadow. Whilst dark midtones and shadows are the crux of this style, in actual fact lighting is never more important. The placement of highlights, although minimal, sculpts the image and help separate elements and reveal details. It’s a great technique for nudes: carefully placed highlights caress curves emphasising the all- important shape and form, but the deep shadows stop too much being revealed to preserve modesty.
Shadow play Using highlights and shadow to sculpt people’s features is one thing, but you can also use it as a feature unto itself to create dynamic and interesting portraits. Shape creators such as venetian blinds or stencils in front of a small light source can deliver strong, concentrated light with shaped shadows. Vary its distance from the light to affect the strength and clarity of the shadows casts. Backlighting a person is also a great graphic style for monochrome; shoot with multi- zone metering and you'll cast them into silhouette.