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Understanding
Black and White Photography 

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difference between black and white vs. monochrome Photography

So what is the difference between “B&W photography” and the nicknamed “Monochrome Photography”? Are they the same? A black and white photo is also a monochrome photo. Yet, you may have a monochrome image that isn’t a B&W photo. Are you confused? Let’s clarify both.

What Is Black and White Photography?

A photograph becomes a black and white image where colors absentee (through digital process or film). It contains shades of gray tones that commonly go from black to white.
Black & White photography is the craft of using different tones from white to black to achieve a fascinating image. Color can be distracting where the image calls for tranquility or just a distilled, refined version of the scene. The essence of the image sometimes better understand if it is colorless.

Today's trend shows most photographs taken in tones of a rainbow, and quite often, we forget about looking at them in the shades of gray and contrast in light and dark. Hopefully, this article will help you to gain more insight and different techniques you can use. One of the most popular genres of photography is black and white or monochrome.

If the world would be colorless - lack of color, remember your old TV that was only capable of transmitting in Black and White if you old enough 🙂 - what did you see? The black and white and shades of gray between intensifying the light and darkness enhance expressions and atmosphere and perceive the image without distraction. I love most about this type of photography because it has a rare moodiness that prioritizes the subject, movement, and air around it. Lots of cameras have a B&W shooting setting, and it is an alluring option to experiment; this brings us to the next question.

This article contains great tips for black and white photography with some awesome examples.

Why Black and White Photography?

Black and white photography eliminates any abstraction of color. It helps the viewer focus on the vital part of the image, such as textures, patterns, and shapes. Better yet, you can use all of the compositional techniques you learned in our previous blog - like the rule of thirds –.

what is monochrome Photography?

A monochrome image is also absent of color, but it may not display all gray shades necessary to become a black and white photo. A monochrome image could be shades of yellow/red named sepia. Therefore monochrome image shows a layer of red, yellow tones.

Try to avoid high contrast lighting when producing monochrome photography. As you practice the technique of creating a monochrome image, you may find yourself embracing the day without sharp contrast like a rainy, cloudy day.

Should you choose shooting in black and white mode for your photography?

It is worth experimenting with Black and White photography to understand how light affects your subject(s) or your scene. Learning how to shoot in color for black and white will help you to think creatively to unleash your imagination. B&W photography is as popular as ever; therefore, many photographers choose to work in monochrome. Taking your time and practice will help you to develop a keen eye to decide when to shoot for Black and white.

The image below was an excellent fit for Black and White conversion. The light yellow is a perfect color contrast compared to the background.

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B&W Chocolate LR Preset

1. What is Tonal Contrast?

Tonal contrast is a term that describes variation in brightness between different areas of the image when light and dark tones located side by side. Black and White photography thrives on strong contrast! And that means even in the harsh midday sun - the lighting condition we certainly avoid in most cases can produce amazing images. When shooting for Black and White you need to neglect the colors, and instead see the scene in detail of highlights and shadows. If you are not sure, this might be the time to switch your camera settings to black and white or another name monochrome. Images with sharp tonal contrast have a better chance to become great black and white versions.
I took the image below early morning just as the sun was rising, creating strong haze and dark shadows. In your camera setting change metering to "Spot Metering" to exposure at the brightest part of the image at a specific spot and not average the brightness level of the whole scene to create deep contrast.

The image below has an earthy rustic tone, some bright areas where the light shines through. It makes an excellent example of black and white conversion.

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B&W Sharp Contrast LR Preset

TIP:  Tonal Contrast
Look for notable differences between light and dark tones. 

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2. What is Color Contrast?

Use Color contrast to shoot for a black and white image. It is another important factor in black and white photography. There are times when there is not much tonal contrast in the picture; therefore, it is more a shade of gray. If you are shooting in color you may want to consider your color, wheel and choose the opposite colors for background and focal point or rather to say the interest of your image.
There is not much tonal contrast in this example below, but there is excellent color contrast so that the photo will lend itself to a well-balanced black and white image.

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B&W Soft LR Preset
B&W Soft LR Preset
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B&W Classic Grainy

TIP:  Color Contrast
An example, the yellow color would show as a lighter tone when converting black and white. On the other hand, greens, earth tones, or reds will appear darker.

Is This True?
Light Brings out Your Subject And Dark Lets It Blend In a black and white image?

It depends on what is your focal point. In the first example below, the opposite is true. The dark shades are dominant, making the shapes stand out, and lighter shades become the background. The second example again is switched; the lighter shade is more preeminent; therefore, it becomes the focal point of the image, and the dark tones create a natural background that is less important.

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B&W Film-Noir LR preset
B&W Film-Noir LR preset

3. Simplify your scene

Another important factor in black and white photography to create black and white images is simplicity, keeping compositions simple. If you include too much of busy background might take away from your focal point of the picture.

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B&W Cloudy Day LR Preset
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B&W Vintage Preset

TIP:  Simplify 
How to simplify your image? Use similar tones, colors for the background. They will blend in together, allowing the focal point to stand out.

4. Look for leading lines, shapes, Textures

The lack of color in black and white photography could translate for a fascinating, thought-provoking image when using lines, shapes, textures, or mergers.

Lines are the focal point in motion, and the longer the line's distance, the greater the visual effect. There are many different lines, leading lines, curves, jagged, straight, etc. Use your imagination, and the options are endless

BW-Radial-Filters


BW-Radial-Filters

B&W Radial Filters Lightroom Preset

Shapes are another essential building block element of black and white photography. It can be organic or geometric. Shapes are two dimensional; at the same time, they can create a unique, provocative image.

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B&W Sharp LR Contrast

Textures have endless variations - smooth, sharp, rough. Textures will positively add interest to your black and white photographs.

TIP:  Lines, Textures, Shapes 
Where to find shapes, lines, textures? Just look around. Get closer or squint with your eyes. What makes a photo interesting using these above? You want to reach out and touch.

5. Use space

What is a positive space means in black and white photography?
It is the part of the image that stands out from its surroundings. It is the focus of the viewer's attention
What is a negative space means in black and white photography?
It is the total opposite—the area of the photograph that doesn't attract much attention. As a result, it will be the supporting buffer to the image. Negative space is the area between and around the body of an object. In other words, also referred to as white space. The focus on your subject should be prominent, and anything around is less noticeable less critical.

Convert to Black and White Photo
How to take photos in fog and mist when there is low light. The weather offers you nothing but gray on gray on a foggy or misty day, and the colors are non-existing, the fog is taking over, what do you do? Converting your photo may also do the trick.

In this image below, I took advantage of mooring ships in the distance disappearing in the fog, focusing on the front on the sailboat. The photograph has more impact converting it to black than in color since the mist created a washed-out, colorless scene.

Fog Fade Out - LR Preset - learn fog photography


Fog - Fade Out - LR Preset - learn fog photography

Fog - Fade Out - Lightroom Preset

6. adjust your exposure manually

Digital cameras have different metering modes.
Spot metering lets you estimate a small portion of the scene you’re photographing; this helps if you know what you’re doing. Still, it’s an advanced technique. I recommend avoiding spot metering and using either center-weighted average or a “smart” mode.

Conclusion of black and white photography

Black and white photography could be a difficult subject. when you remove color interference, you are in a different and maybe a more challenging realm of photography. if you choose to shoot in color, you can depend on the scene eye capturing elements like vivid clouds, stunning sunsets.

in black and white photography, none of these are essential factors. you must rely on light and dark, shadows, and composition of objects, so the story captures emotions, although it takes some practice but worth the effort.

We hope you've learned as much as possible from this article that will help you in your journey to take better photos in fog and mist when the weather turns to fall head out and experiment and enjoy your time away from the hustle and bustle.
Top it off, check out our "Black and White" Lightroom presets to uplift your photography from good to better.

We, at Beyond Snapshot Photography, thank you for your time to visit our blog and least, but not last, we encourage you to check out other blogs on photography tips and helpful hints.


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