What to look for while you are fram­ing your shot

Un­der­stand­ing how the sub­ject is go­ing to trans­late into black and white is vi­tal for pro­duc­ing suc­cess­ful mono im­ages. Here are the prin­ci­ples that will help…

Digital Camera World - - BLACK & WHITE -

Whil e many pho­tog­ra­phy skills are sim­i­lar for both black-and­white and colour shots, such as strong com­po­si­tion and un­der­stand­ing how the light is fall­ing on the sub­ject, that doesn’t mean it’s sim­ply a case of shoot­ing the same sub­jects and con­vert­ing them from colour to mono. Sub­jects that rely on colour for their mood or im­pact will of­ten be less suc­cess­ful in black and white. In­stead of look­ing at the colours in a scene, try to pic­ture how the dif­fer­ent tones, de­tails and graphic el­e­ments in the sub­ject will work to­gether to pro­duce a strong com­po­si­tion. But re­mem­ber too that the im­age that you cap­ture can be sim­ply a start­ing point: with some sim­ple im­age ma­nip­u­la­tion, you can en­hance and al­ter the re­la­tion­ships of the tones in the fi­nal im­age.

There are many fac­tors that can in­flu­ence this re­sult, but the most im­por­tant thing to look out for is a main sub­ject or struc­ture in the im­age that will stand out from the back­ground. Along with the main sub­ject, it’s of­ten the shad­ows that de­fine the struc­ture of the com­po­si­tion in black and white, so pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to these.

So, look for con­trasts of light and dark that will give the im­age a strong struc­ture, and you’ll be on the right track. You can then try to in­clude more sub­tle el­e­ments of de­tail, tones, form and tex­ture to add depth and in­ter­est.

1 CAP­TURe LIG HT

Un­der­stand­ing how the qual­ity and di­rec­tion of the light fall­ing on your sub­ject will af­fect the fi­nal im­age is vi­tal for suc­cess­ful mono im­ages. Shoot­ing into the light will pro­duce dra­matic re­sults, while side-light­ing can help en­hance shape and form.

2 CAP­TURE SHAPES

With­out colour, it’s of­ten the shape of an ob­ject that de­fines it. Look for sub­jects with an out­line that cre­ates strong shapes against the back­ground; this is eas­ier if the tones of the sub­ject con­trast with the back­ground.

3 CAP­TURE TONE

Along with the more graphic el­e­ments, black-and-white is also a great medium for cap­tur­ing sub­tle vari­a­tions in tone. Un­der­stand­ing how dif­fer­ent colours will ap­pear as tones in the fi­nal im­age is the key to ‘see­ing’ in black and white.

4 CAP­TURE MOOD

From dark and brood­ing to light and airy, the lack of colour in black-and-white im­ages is ideal for en­hanc­ing mood. This can be en­hanced by se­lec­tively dark­en­ing or light­en­ing dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the im­age us­ing dodg­ing and burn­ing.

5 CAP­TURE TE XTURE

From the jagged sur­face of stone to the del­i­cate de­tail of hair, tex­ture is a key el­e­ment for many black-and-white im­ages. This can be used as part of a larger com­po­si­tion, or as the main sub­ject. Side-light­ing can help to bring out this tex­ture.

6 CAP­TURE CON­TRAST

The con­trast of bright high­lights and dark shad­ows is per­fect for cre­at­ing strik­ing im­ages. Although your at­ten­tion is drawn by the bright­est ar­eas, it’s the shad­ows that of­ten cre­ate the strong­est con­trast. This works best with sim­ple sub­jects.

7 CAP­TURE FORM

Form is the three-di­men­sional shape of a sub­ject. It is cre­ated by sub­tle vari­a­tions in shad­ing, from light tones to shad­ows. These are at their great­est when the light source is to one side of the sub­ject.

8 CAP­TURE PAT­TERNS

Re­peat­ing pat­terns make a great sub­ject for black-and-white. The key to cap­tur­ing these is sim­plic­ity, so try to ex­clude any ar­eas of the scene that dis­tract from the im­pact by get­ting in close or us­ing a long-fo­cal-length lens.

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