GET THE SHOT BEFORE THE EDIT
Cut out the computer and create stunning monochrome images in-camera
No need to previsualise
The most difficult aspect of black and white photography is previsualising how the final image will appear. When you look at a colourful subject or scene with the naked eye, it’s hard to imagine how those colours will translate to shades of grey. Some colours convert to similar grey tones – red and green, for example – and this can have a big impact on the final image. By shooting with your camera in monochrome mode, you don’t have to previsualise because you’ll see the black and white image instantly, and you’ll know there and then if it works – and if not, you can improve it (see bottom-right boxout).
What you see is what you get
If your camera has an electronic viewfinder (EVF) and you set it to monochrome mode, the image you see in the viewfinder with the camera to your eye will be in black and white, so you can see how it will look before even tripping the shutter. Any settings you change, such as contrast, or effects you add such as toning, will also be applied so you can fine-tune the shot before taking it. With DSLRs the same applies if you use Live View instead of the optical viewfinder. This allows you to concentrate on composition, pattern, texture, shape and form (the essential ingredients of a good black and white image) without the distraction of colour.
You can take creative risks
One of the greatest benefits of digital capture is that it gives you instant feedback, so if you make a mistake or don’t quite like a shot for any reason, you can re-shoot, and keep re-shooting until you get it right. Shooting in monochrome mode means the same benefits can be applied to black and white images. Knowing what you’re getting means that you’re more inclined to push your creative boundaries, think outside the box and try something new, different or daring that you might otherwise avoid. Experimentation is the best way to learn, improve and produce exciting work.
Less time at the computer
Not all photographers like being stuck behind a computer for hours converting colour RAW files. Shooting in-camera black and white solves that problem instantly. It may not give you the level of control you get from Photoshop or Lightroom, but creating black and white images on the spot allows you to make creative decisions there and then, rather than days, weeks or months later when you’re emotionally removed from the situation you were in when the shots were taken.
The best of both worlds
If you set your camera to capture both RAW and JPEG files, then work in monochrome mode, you effectively have the best of both worlds because you’ll end up with a black and white JPEG, plus a colour RAW file. The JPEG can be used as a reference image to show how you want the image to look, then you can convert the RAW file to black and white to produce a similar image but that’s higher quality and more detailed.
AboveDOWNWARD SPIRAL SHOOTING THIS SPIRALSTAIRCASE IN BLACK AND WHITE HELPED TO FOCUS ATTENTION ON THE PATTERNS AND SHAPES IN THE SCENE, WITHOUT COLOUR CAUSING ADISTRACTION
RightVENICE, ITALY IN FOGGY WEATHER, THE WORLD LOOKS BLACK AND WHITE – SO YOU MIGHT ASWELL SHOOT IT THAT WAY