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Digital black & white photography - Think black & white and become more creativity with your digital photography.
Many modern digital cameras have a series of mono modes in their advanced menu settings. These can be used if you want to be more creative with your photography. You may want to use them to illustrate a newsletter, add a sepia tone to give your picture an olde-worlde look or to copy documents and ensure the text stands out.
|The three options you'll often find include: |
Black & White: takes a black & white photograph comprising range of grey tones.
Sepia: takes a picture with a range of brown tones.
Document: A high contrast mode used to make text stand out.
So what happens when you switch to this mode?
The first thing you'll notice is the colour LCD becomes greyscale.
So you see how the picture will appear when it's recorded. When you take the picture the colour signal is still recorded by the CCD, but the image is desaturated when processed to remove all colour.
Black & white can offer a more creative view of your world
If the Sepia mode is used a colour shift is applied to create the red/brown hues. If you do not have a computer it's essential to switch to one of these modes if it's the kind of output you require. But computer owners can desaturate a colour image using even the most basic image editing software and its Hue and Saturation mode.
Sepia used here to create an old feel
What to shoot
There's no reason why black & white cannot be used with any subject - it's used often for portraiture and landscapes and can also be very effective in abstract shoots offering a graphical view of the subject.
|In all cases one of the biggest challenges is to start to visualise the subject as greyscale, as the conversion of tones from colour to black & white is not always obvious. Also some tones that are easy to differentiate in colour, such as a light blue and yellow, will look almost identical when reproduced as grey tones.|| |
Landscapes suit black & white
|Black & white forces you to think differently and imagine colours. Here the red and green tones look almost identical in mono.|
Where shooting in black & white becomes more interesting is when filters are used. Then you can play around with how a particular colours appears in black & white. We covered this in an article last month here: Using filters for black & white photography. But briefly, a red filter, for example, placed over the lens when you take the photo will lighten any red colours in the image so they appear lighter shades of grey than blue or green colours.
So if black & white is something you enjoyed doing with a film camera you can more or less repeat the process using your digital camera. You'll need a filter holder so the filters can be attached or you can hold them over the lens while you take the shot. The viewfinder won't show you the change of tones, but once the image is taken you can preview on screen and see what's happened.
Printing black & white images
For the more advanced users who have certain Epson or Canon printers you could consider taking out the colour cartridges and replacing them with a set of black inks that produce accurate black & white images. These are made by companies such as Lyson and come in various forms offering neutral cool or warm tones.