7 tips about Black and White photography

Between light & shadow

Version Française cliquez en haut à droite ;)

In this article we will learn how to make beautiful black and white photos.

I selected portraits and street photos taken between Paris and Tokyo. Black and White has the special property of transporting you into timeless worlds. Welcome to those past moments that will give you a feeling of unreality.

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State of mind :

If you want to make beautiful blacks and whites pictures, when you take out your camera, look at your environment and see if you have a nice contrast between lights, shapes and textures around you.


Outdoors :

In the street you can see backlights, a reflection through a window, or in a mirror allow you to play on different contrasts.


During the day, the sun will form dark and bright areas, it seems simple, but it's up to you to find the right balance.

In the subway, or out at night, use neon lights or streetlights to make beautiful contrasts, as the range of their lights is limited you can close your diaphragm until you have a break or a gradient.

For a shoot with model outside, the background has a very important role for the contrasts, it is necessary to find the right mix between the shades of the clothes, the skin and what happen behind the model. Otherwise you will end up with misshapen masses not so elegant.


In the studio :

Here it is not so different, except that you have total control of your light, it's up to you not to go wrong! Shoot in Raw, Black and White mode, put your lights on with the pilot lights and move your model to see how it reacts to light.

On the other hand the choice of the modeler will be primordial, a soft light (light box) will not be so nice. But if you put a grid on it, it will focus your light.
A hard light will be perfect if it is well dosed, I think about a reflector bowl, beauty dish, silver umbrella.

The body reacts to black and white, it is difficult to differentiate the original color of the model, so we must play on this phenomenon of unreality with the poses and retouching.

Artists :

During a show or rehearsal, you must capture an atmosphere, an emotion, a certain play of light to make the photo unique.

The photos of the music stuff look nice in black and white, there are often things that shine on it.

An artist during a photo shoot can communicate incredible emotions and a certain energy, it is essential to capture it, the black and white will help you to assert this strength.


The retouches :

When you have taken your beautiful photos, put them on your favorite editing software and switch to Black and White with the saturation slide.
Then play with the balance of white, which offers nice contrasts!
I give you my basic set up to have an idea, but it's up to you to find the one that suits you best.


To avoid :

Flat photos! it may be the same in color, but pretty soft colors blended will be beautiful, but once in b&w the photo loses its interest.

The film photography :

I will finish on a poetic note that is the film, nothing more to say, except that the grain of the film adds texture to your photo, and the light there governed differently.
I highly recommend you try!


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