Tips on How to Improve your Black and White photographs

The beauty of monochromatic photographs is timeless; there are many occasions in which opting to shoot in one colour can improve the emotional substance and attractiveness of the photo, especially black and white photograph; they are classic, more artistic and with an extra edge over colour photographs.

The practicability of white and black photos is normally underestimated; portrait photographs are the best example as they tend to give powerful results; the main reason is that colours do not steal the attention of the main subject; the same principle applies to landscapes, the splendour of the scene can be easily captured if the light and composition is studied carefully.

Avoiding the boring effect of these photos is easily overcome by choosing different shades; for example, the variety and depth of gray scales evolve from the black and white spectrum and gives a completely different outlook at the photograph.  Here are some tips that you should keep in mind in order to improve the quality of your photographs:


  • Shoot in Raw

If you camera has the functionality of shooting in RAW, use it!  It offers new possibilities and gives better manageability of the final result and appearance of the image; basically if you shoot in Raw, an image file will be generated by the computer; not the camera; this allows more control over the image. The setback is that you need to use additional software in your computer in order to process the files and produce JPEGs. I will shortly write an article dedicated just to this point and include it here. 

Happy Friends(51638)Credit: Robin Harlow
  • Pattern and Texture

The use of rich textures and detailed scenarios will help the photography to be more comprehensible and achieve that emotional effect that all photographers are after.  Patterns are important; this is because colour is not the main protagonist and does not capture the attention of the viewer. You should perform a session focusing just on pattern and then choose white and black instead of colour; you will notice the improvement in the beauty of the images.


Budapest in black and whiteCredit: Daniel M Ramirez
  • Contrast

Light gives you the opportunity to obtain great contrast in your photographs. The “contrast” will bring differences in tonality that cannot be seen in colour photographs; a good example is the use of shadows, normally achieved by lateral lighting. The contrast between clear and dark colours, in combination with a bright light brings a whole new spectrum of tonalities, perfect to produce an artistic photograph.


Train tunnel in Providence by Conor McLaughlin(51634)Credit: Conor McLaughlin
  • Best time to shoot

Dark and cloudy days are generally ideal  as the produce beautiful images thanks to the low contrasts. Next time you are on holiday and it is clouding and raining, the best thing to do is to change the settings of your camera to black and white; you will be stunned with the final product.


Budapest in black and white(51042)Credit: Daniel M Ramirez


  • Low ISO

In the photography world, an ISO number is an indication of the sensitivity of the sensor; a high number indicates greater sensibility and greater chance of taking picture in low light conditions without using flash; however, it is recommended to use low ISO to avoid the noise “grain” created by the ISO functionality.. 


Royal wedding - black and white photographCredit: Daniel M Ramirez


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