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Tips for Photographing in B&W


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Thanks to all who shared their images in the Black and White Photo Challenge! We loved seeing your stunning images. Sony Brand Ambassador @CarolineJensen shared this stunning image.


Could contain: Leaf, Plant, Silhouette, Animal


We chatted with Caroline to learn some of her black and white photography tips. Caroline spent a number of years photographing in only black and white and she has some great insight into successful B&W photography. Caroline also shared that black and white photography can be a great way to help you understand color more deeply, “I think that shooting in black and white made me understand color so much better.” 

  • Shoot B&W in RAW + Jpeg: That way you’ll have a black and white jpeg shot out of camera but you’ll still have the colorful RAW image, if you’d like to go back while editing. With that being said, Caroline does suggest switching your camera to just jpeg occasionally and only shooting in B&W, as a creative exercise. 
     
  • Study the “B&W Mix” or “HSL Panel” in your editing software: This will help you understand how colors change when shooting in black and white. For example, when we see red in color, it’s bold and bright but when it’s converted to black and white, it becomes quite a dull gray. “So learning how to amp up that contrast with the underlying color is very important and people do better to understand color and in the HSL panel.” 

 

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  • Study shapes and composition: “With black and white, you spend a lot more time looking at shapes. With color images we've got so much information that you can get overwhelmed but in black and white we can really concern ourselves with the shape of the negative space, the shape of outlines, the shape of profiles, the shape of everything. I think that if you want to get better at composition black and white is a really good place to start because the cues of composition, of tension or comfort or peace or whatever emotion you're going for in your composition is heightened in just black and white.” The image below is a great example, Caroline used black and white to show the texture and detail of the leaf!

1vV-xhRCBsqcGr0TY0TjlvGs5gQQYEZVJPTuThY8p5h24kA0tlMILYtGA0ng1HWo9mf3AuTovZtUPstypMfaP2mTcAe8VxmtAnVqsxn9I220k300t-UGso7ykqSuLsBYvnqVcjSm-qhRmMdS7Mnn83Ey37fwwkbRGF49bk8LsblDdV0r6uM-KEs4pBQOZQu8J-v9Jwwd8buEbifnycUKI7g9nSXkhAE3DO_yTD7R5nEHrij2cVMr-81W6mxYNKybrS7B9cCj36c2bAy9oFNTfRQMvrPJIRQ2oP0YHGGMkok1lGdvJOWuiixYpUsy_AiIGIr5IxSeqA00UTzwUflRd0gCPGl_6PaPHKgV6dOS-0YgvRJW1jT08BPYiwyA

 

  • Don’t be afraid of ISO: “You can really crank your ISO in black and white. And Sony noise is pretty easy on the eyes, and you can also cover it or kind of mix it in with grain from your editing program to be very nice looking. I go much higher on my ISO when I’m shooting black and white than when I’m shooting color.” 
     
  • Lean into the drama: “When you work with backlighting or very moody lighting or really dramatic lighting with black and white, it becomes artistic. Again, you're focusing on shapes and shadows and negative space versus the subject, framing, all of that. There's a lot more ‘Fine Art’ feel sometimes to black and white because it is so much more structural. Colors is its own language and stripping that away forces different things to the forefront.”
     
  • Play with texture: “Don't be afraid in post processing to add a lot of clarity or Texture one of the things with black and white images is that they can feel kind of flat and boring; but cranking up the clarity and the texture is making up for that missing color. You're replacing texture where color would normally be.” 
     
  • Mind your dust spots: Caroline says she’s learned the hard way that black and white is totally unforgiving when it comes to dust spots, so she recommends being super aware of that when out shooting. 

Thanks to Caroline for sharing these helpful tips! Share some more of your favorite black and white images below! 👇

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