Black and White Photography: A Quick Guide for Beginners
An ad once quoted, “Color is an aid for people without imagination.” While this statement is definitely arguable, we sometimes just want to see things in black and white — that is, through black and white photographs at least.
Black and white photography adds a unique and artistic value to images. It enables us to see the timeless quality of certain aspects of life and the subtle emotions of the human condition. But how do you use black and white photography to better convey your visual message?
In this article, we present tips for making your images more compelling through black and white.
What is black and white photography?
Some people would consider black and white photography as a type of monochrome photography. While black and white photography only utilizes the color gray, it is a different art altogether.
Before the first commercial color photography, Autochrome, was produced in 1904 by the Lumiere brothers, the world relied heavily on black and white photography since the 1820s. It is a unique art that utilizes different tones of gray, with black as the darkest tone and white as the lightest. As such, black and white photos are sometimes referred to as grayscale photos.
There’s a number of reasons why black and white still remains popular despite the massive progress in digital photography. Black and white can make your photos look magical and create a dreamscape that may not be effectively expressed through colors. Here’s how black and white photography can bring your photos to the next level:
- Black and white images are more nostalgic and retrospective.
- Converting your colorful image into a black and white mode brings out its natural beauty and highlights the contrasts.
- Black and white photos look more emphatic and expressive.
- Black and white photos allow you to recreate a classic look akin to old photos by taking out the colors and maximizing the grey tones.
- Black and white photos enable viewers to capture the essence of your shot without being distracted by unnecessary colors.
When do we use black and white photography?
Black and white photography may seem easy at a glance. However, not all photos deserve a black-and-white rendition. Here are some of the instances where black and white photography can make more compelling images than color photography:
- Photos that need a classical or historical look. Black and white photography conveys the timelessness of an image. It imparts a classic and historic feel to events, places, and objects that have a storied past. Rendering such photos in black and white prevents the image from becoming dated.
- Street photography. Black and white photography is a great way to capture stories of the human condition in public places. By using varying tones of gray, our photos powerfully portray vibrant street vibes and tell interesting stories that only happen in the streets.
- Portraits with rich expressions. Using a wide range of gray tones can help define the subtleties of expressions in a portrait, which viewers may otherwise miss when using colors. In portraits, black and white photography helps draw attention to the subtle details of the face and emphasizes the catchlights in the subject’s eyes.
- Photos with rich texture. Taking photos with rich texture can be challenging, such as the wrinkled skin of an elephant or the thick fur of a bear. Using black and white photography enhances the textural definition of such subjects and gives photos a larger-than-life presence.
- Photos with negative white space. If you want your photos to have a high-key effect, using black and white photography is a great technique. When you purposely blow out your background to pure white, you bring a laser-like focus to your subject and allows viewers to immediately engage with your image without getting distracted by background elements.
How to create stunning black and white photos
Even in the absence of color, black and white digital photography can be complicated. Thankfully, with today’s advanced software technology, creating black and white photos is no longer as difficult as it used to. All you need is a reliable photo editor app, such as MyZesty.
If you find editing black and white photos tedious, MyZesty can help you transform colored photos into aesthetically pleasing black and white compositions in just a matter of seconds. The MyZesty app features several presets that you can use to add striking effects to your images.
With MyZesty, taking color out of your digital photo only takes one click. Here’s how you do it:
Step 1. Open the MyZesty app and choose the Editor tab. Select a photo from your camera roll.
Step 2. Tap on the Preset tool.
Step 3. Select your preset. Make adjustments using the sliders to achieve the black and white effect.
How to enhance your black and white photos
If you want your photos to portray a more timeless and vintage feel, using MyZesty presets will help you achieve such effects. Here are some of our helpful tips:
- MyZesty has multiple unique black-and-white presets to choose from that allow you to edit your photos exactly as you like. You may try the Bygone preset for a vintage effect or the Sepia preset to channel an antiqued look.
- If you want to create a strong and graphic look, you can increase the filter intensity. If you prefer a more subtle vibe with a hint of color in your photos, reducing the intensity will achieve this effect.
- After applying the preset you want, you can use the Curve tool to create more contrast or modify the overall lighting.
- If you want to attract attention towards your subject, you may use blur or vignette tools.
- If you want to give your photos a classic “film” look, you’ll enjoy the following MyZesty presets:
Using MyZesty’s various presets will help you achieve a neat and appealing black and white effect. All of MyZesty’s presets are highly universal and crafted to be applied to a broad range of photos.
While you can take black and white photos straight from your camera using the black and white mode, using filters, such as those mentioned above, gives you the option to take pictures in color and keep the colored version before converting them to black and white during post-production. MyZesty’s filters have several variations of shades that you can try and experiment on to see which effect would render the best interpretation of your creative vision.
Black and white photography is here to stay. With millions of pictures bombarding online platforms every day, photographers are constantly experimenting with unique aesthetics through black and white photography to capture the attention of their audiences.
Black and white photos help express viewpoints and bring out emotion without the presence of distracting colors. It also spans various photography genres. This is why black and white photography has maintained its popularity for almost 300 years now.
Fortunately, creating black and white photos has become much easier. You can try your hand at black and white photography with MyZesty. The app is fast, free, and has no advertisements to annoy you while you navigate the app.
With MyZesty, besides presets, you have limitless access to a lot of image editing tools. MyZesty’s filters and editing tools allow additional tuning for brightness, contrast, vignette, and other image settings. The app’s easy-to-use interface enables users to fully manipulate the photo so they could get the best result they envision.