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Why Work In Black & White?

Why Work In Black & White? - Here are five reasons why you should give black & white photography a chance.

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General Photography


Photo by David Clapp


With black & white camera modes, apps that can turn your phone shots mono and various black & white editing techniques available, black & white photography is more accessible than ever but if you've never produced a black & white shot, why should you? Well, we've put together a quick list of reasons that may just persuade you to give black & white photography a go, plus we've linked to various black & white tutorials as well as mentioned a few tips further down in the article.

Makes You Think About Composition More

As Robin Whalley said in a previous article: "To achieve a good black and white image you need to have separation between the elements in the frame. If you can’t distinguish or find it difficult to distinguish between the elements the image will lack impact and the viewer will struggle to understand it."

With this in mind, it makes you search harder for an interesting composition that includes strong foreground interest. Strong shapes and lead-in lines work well as do other strong, distinctive shapes further back in the composition that the eye can easily identify even when everything has a similar tone.

Interesting Take On Snow Photography

As most of us have seen snowfall over the last week, now's a good time to talk about photographing snow in a black & white format. Black & white snow-filled landscapes will not only give you something a little different to what the majority of people photograph but it can also stop shots with pale, snow-laden skies from looking boring and lacking in contrast. As mentioned above, contrast is important so look for strong recognisable shapes that can be easily isolated from the white background. For more tips on black & white snow photography, take a look at John Gravett's article.

Not As Distracting

As colour's stripped away and shots become reliant on tones, texture and contrast, everything seems  simpler and there's not as many distractions to contend with. Focus falls on your main subject more easily and when shot right, can have a lot of impact.


Photo by Joshua Waller


Helps Create Mood

Mood essentially relates to the lighting in a shot and when you shoot on a cloudy, unsettled day, working in black & white will give you a shot that's far more foreboding than a shot in colour. It's far easier to create a sense of a dark and brooding landscape with black & white than it is colour.

Effect Can Change

During post production you can Darken certain areas of your shot while lightening other areas, creating contrast as you do. You can create a soft black & white effect or go all out and apply one that's strong. There are various methods for doing this including applying an S-Curve or using the dodge and burn tools. Take a look at these tutorials for more tips:


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