You can’t deny black and white pictures look amazing. Among professionals, black and white photography is considered an art form. Don’t believe? Go check the work of Sebastião Salgado or Ansel Adams.
But what happens when you lose color? When I first started taking pictures in black and white, I thought there was something missing. And you might be feeling the same.
Black and white photography is all about composition. With color, you can easily get a great contrast between different objects. When you switch to black and white, most colors turn to grey and you lose that contrast.
How did I get the contrast back? I came up with some simple rules that I always follow to take more dramatic photos.
First of all, I always use the RAW format on my canon 5DS. This allows me to have more control in post-processing.
Then, I add some dramatic effect to the sky (if I’m shooting a landscape or an urban picture) by using color filters. When taking black and white photos, you can use yellow or red filters to get darker skies and get better contrast.
Plus, when I’m taking pictures trees or plants I use a green filter. This isn’t necessary, but it adds a special effect that makes everything look alive.
Another trick is to modify the brightness and contrast in your camera. What I do is I try to pay attention to the shadows. I change the brightness and contrast until I can clearly see the outline of the shadows.
If the shadows don’t show up clearly, I change the light. This is critical for portraits: with the wrong light, black and white portraits will look two-dimensional. Find the correct light and you’ll get amazing, three-dimensional, dramatic portraits.
Follow these simple rules (shooting in RAW, color filters, contrast, and lighting) and you’ll master black and white photography as well.