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Shooting in Black and White: The Photographer's Choice by Laura Jeeves

Shooting in Black and White: The Photographer's Choice by
Article Posted: 11/16/2020
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Shooting in Black and White: The Photographer's Choice

Art and Culture
For the budding photographer, there are many aspects to consider before you even decide on a subject. What device you’ll use, what you’ll consider in your frame, what’s the story you’re trying to tell, and so much more. But one of the most basic decisions you have to make in terms of how you want your image to look is whether it will be in colour or black and white. It’s also one of the most important, and for those embarking on online photography classes, there will undoubtedly be a great deal of attention given to this aspect.

Note: It should be noted that with today’s digital cameras, you may have the option to shoot in RAW, which affords you the flexibility of making the decision afterwards, whereas if you shoot in black and white in JPEG form, none of the colour information is retained. This article should be considered more in terms of the overall decisions for how you want the final image to be viewed.

Colour or Black and White: the Ultimate Decision

Despite colour photography being around for over a century, there are many people, both professional and amateur, who choose to shoot in black and white. By undertaking online photography classes you’ll discover many of the reasons, but whether for creative, technical or practical motives, these are some of the things it may be helpful to consider in your own practice when making that all-important choice.

Is Colour Important to the Scene?

Some scenes/subjects lend themselves perfectly to the use of colour and they just wouldn’t have the same impact on the viewer if you removed that aspect. But if you look at a scene and it has enough interest in terms of the subject or potential composition, shooting in B & W can very often enhance its power. The important thing is not to just make a decision based solely on your creative preference, but to look objectively at each situation as it arises. Naturally, the more practice you have the better you’ll be able to make decisions based on actual experience and knowledge – which is a very valuable thing you can cultivate through online photography classes.

Capturing Contrast and Texture

Another thing you’ll become adept at with experience is observing not just light, but also the contrast between the tones, or the light and shadows in a scene – aka the contrast. High contrast scenes make for outstanding B & W images, so make it your practice to study your composition in terms of this scale. You can also play with the contrast by changing or capitalising on directional light sources to ‘sculpt’ the image. Striking textures in a scene or on a subject also lend themselves to stunning B & W photographs. This even includes imperfections or flaws in skin and natural elements like stone, plants and timber.

Making a Mood

This last aspect is probably the most important consideration: what is the mood you’re looking to convey in your image? B & W photography can add a highly emotive element to all kinds of photography, from landscape and wildlife to street and portraiture. Removing colour quite often renders the ‘mood’ darker or more dramatic, but it can also add a sense of timelessness.

Online photography classes provide an excellent platform to not only learn professional tips and techniques, but also to imbue you with the confidence to experiment within your own practice. Whether you shoot in colour or black and white is entirely up to you, but if you want to take your images to the next level it’s vital you have the knowledge that backs an informed choice.

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Adam Harper is a Photography Consultant at Masters of Photography, which offers online photography classes with some of the world’s greatest photographers. Suitable for all levels, the courses provide lifetime access to easy to follow classes, allowing participants to learn valuable tips and tricks and take big steps to improve their photography. The online community affords the opportunity to find inspiration from both the Masters and fellow students.

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