A Simple and Quick Tip For Shooting Better Black & White Images
Living in the West, North America primarily, there’s this idea that’s marketed to us that every round faced, rosy-cheeked Italian woman can whip up a culinary delight, the likes of which royalty have only encountered. This is wrong. I’ve been to a host of Italian kitchens which left me bereft of anything other than a newfound respect for that childhood kitchen table friend, Chef Boyardee – a man with whom I no longer associate. Many people believe something similar regarding black and white photos. Essentially that any photo will look good in shades of grey. While art is subjective to taste, the notion that a photo is good, or can be saved by changing it to grayscale, is misplaced.
Using filters with your camera set to monochrome can be a great help, and with digital you can see quickly how a certain filter color affects your final image. Not everyone is yet adept to using them, or has the required equipment, but most modern DSLRs will give you filter options digitally. Surprisingly, they can be quite effective. It’s a rather simple and quick tool I often use to shoot a test shot, to see which shots will look good in B&W before heading to post processing and finding it just didn’t suit. The example screenshots are from Nikon, but I know Canon has similar menu choices.
Something To Consider
Key to understanding this is to understand that B&W doesn’t simply mean all color is removed from the image. The tonality of those colors are varied in lightness and these dictate the look of the final image. Also different cameras, as was the case with film, will represent and interpret color differently, not to mention the paper they are printed on, so it’s not a bad idea to test each beforehand…if you need to be that discerning. NOTE: RAW shooters beware that your images will be in color when uploaded to the computer. You could shoot RAW+JPEG as a solution.
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First, go into Settings and select ‘Set Picture Control’ and then ‘Monochrome.’ Don’t stop there, however, go a step further and you’ll see ‘Filter Effects.’ Scroll down to ‘Toning,’ where you’ll see a scale of colors each able to be even more finely tuned once it’s selected.
What do those colors do? Essentially, the color of filter you select will lighten the tone of that particular color, and make its opposite darker in the final image. For example, a Red filter will generally lighten skin tones, but turn Blue, its opposite, darker. I usually use the red for photographing people and tends to be my go to all round. It is, as stated above, all subjective to the look you are going for, so I encourage you to play around.
CREDITS: All photographs shared by Kishore Sawh are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist