Image by Peter Bargh
Black and white is a very popular option for photographers. It can work well in a variety of photographic situations, as long as a few elements are present in the shot, which we'll look into in this article.
It's really easy to convert your images to black and white nowadays - Olympus cameras such as the OM-D E-M10 and Stylus 1 have Art Filters, including Grainy Film and Gentle Sepia, which can help you to create a unique looking image with a different take on a popular subject or view.
Of course, if you like, you can also convert your colour images to black and white in post production, and this often gives you more scope for playing with the tone and colour channel of your image if you want to experiment.
Black and white images will work better in some situations than others, and here we've listed features of an image which will work well in black and white:
- Unless you are deliberately going for the grainy look, use a low ISO in your image. ISO is more visible in black and white images and unless you want the noisy look, it's wise not to venture much over ISO 400/800.
Clean, simple composition -
Black and white brings simplicity to an image, and often looks better as an effect if your image is well composed and is free of clutter. Choose your focal point and build the image around it, making sure there are no unnecessary distractions in the frame. You can zoom them out, or crop the image later in post production.
- Black and white often works well with overcast, cloudy skies, as it brings out the different tones of the clouds, giving them more depth and texture. Often this will bring a lot more detail to the sky than a colour image on an overcast day.
- Images where there's a lot of light and shadow will look really striking in black and white. Light coloured buildings casting shadow, sculptures and trees against a clear sky can look really atmospheric in this format.
- Photographs of people can also look more appealing in black and white. It can highlight the creases and wrinkles of the face if your want the image to look more gritty, which can work well when representing hardened or weathered people.