What and how to shoot in Black and White?

Ancient stone sculpture

Stone chain at Varadaraja Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram

  1. Learn to see the scene /subject in black & white – convert the colors in to its closer tones of grey and visualize
  2. Justify if the black and white conversion is not taking away any important colour information of image.
  3. Prefer to shoot subjects with less color or single color in B & W – Ancient Indian temples are ideal subjects for B & W

    Street Vendor

    Street Vendor

  4. Emotions, character and expressions, depressions, sadness, loss, poverty, ecstasy, details of form, nudes, art, abstract, concepts, news (communicating horror, blasts, murder), old & antique things are some subjects and situations suitable for B & W photography
  5. Shoot in RAW and Jpeg quality. Set the picture control or picture style of the camera in ‘Monochrome’. This will give you a Jpeg image in B & W and the RAW will contain color data. The Jpeg image can be used for viewing in the camera for understanding the tones and exposure. RAW file can be processed in detail and converted in B & W.

    potter at work

    Potter at work

  6. The contrast adjustment needs to be handled carefully in the post-production to retain the details in the shadows and highlights. Photo filters in the Photoshop can be used to manage the brightness and details in the particular colour for an effective tone and details in B & W image.
  7. Use Polarizing filters and/or ‘white balance shift’ control of the DSLR to increase amber to darken the sky. This will give a good separation of clouds in landscape and nature shots.


    Gangaikonda Cholapuram

  8. Add ‘film grains or noise effects’ for the feel of time in a B & W image. Vintage and antique subjects will look great with this effect.
  9. Though a B & W gives an aesthetic feel by default, never shoot all the pictures in B & W just like that. Color is very important for some subjects (imagine shooting rainbows, Holi and rangloli in black and white..!).
  10. A very badly underexposed/noisy/off shooting color images salvaged through Photoshop can be converted in to B & W to cover-up the technical problems

    clay pots

    Terracotta Pots

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