At the beginning of photography, people only have the choice of taking black and white pictures. However, even decades after the color film was first invented, many people still enjoy taking monochrome photos. It’s quite intriguing that in spite of all of the colors and dynamic range that current digital cameras can snap, people still find beauty in “colorless” photos.
If you’re interested in diving into the monochrome world, here are some tips for monochrome enthusiasts.
Check out the manual
Different cameras have different ways to go to Monochrome Mode. The Olympus Pen, for example, put it in the Scene Menu. You can also shoot your photos in color and turn them to monochrome in post-processing. However, that could prove tricky as it’s hard to imagine how the photos going to end up.
Go for the easy objects
Not all object works well in black and white. For beginners, go with landscape and portrait. They are both great gateways to the monochrome realm. Humans’ facial expression along with the curve, wrinkles, and imperfections are emphasized when shot in black and white.
It’s the same way with landscape. The different shadows cast by the cloud along with the contour of the earth are superb when transformed into grayscale.
When you first starting out, always use the RAW image file format. It’s easier to fix and tune your photos in post-processing when the file has the data to work with.
If down the line you are more comfortable working with JPEG only, that’s OK. For the meantime, though, keep using RAW. If you need to convert them to any other formats, just use the online image converter.
Tweak the contrast and textures
For a mind-blowing B&W photography, you need to focus more on the tonal balance instead of composition. Yes, it may against the basic tip you get when taking color photos, but that’s the thing; black and white photography is a distinct field of photography.
Whether you’re taking pictures in colors or monochrome, you need to tell a story. For black & white photography the story is told through textures and contrast. You need to adjust and tweak the photography knowledge you have acquired so far to do just that.
Play with filters
There are many free presets for Lightroom that caters to B&W photos. Definitely check them out and see which settings they use and how much. You’ll be surprised by how slight detail changes can affect the overall picture.
Keep your eyes open
As you take more pictures, you will instinctively see things in black and white. You will spot the monochrome potential in people standing under the shade, rocks, buildings, traffic, and everything else your eyes see.
OK, that’s it for now. Even though this is not a complete guide, we sure hope it can get you started quickly. If you need some inspiring examples, you can go to Pinterest, Instagram, Unsplash, Flickr, and other photo sharing sites. They provide an endless stream of different ideas for you to try.
Please note that being different does not imply good or bad. Different is different – and that’s alright. Everyone has different taste. Your version of beauty does not have to comply with others’ and vice versa. Let’s just enjoy each other’s work.