How to Visualize and Shoot in B&W

How to Visualize and Shoot in B&W

Black and white photography is one of the oldest forms of photography; yet its popularity seems to have been on the uptick of late. With plugins like Alien Skin’s Exposure and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2, digital photographers now have some amazing tools at their disposal to create black and white images of varying types. But the problem with shooting for black and white is knowing what will look good as a monochrome image. It can take photographers years to look at a scene and know what it will look like when rendered in monochrome. The old adage of “If it doesn’t look good, just convert it to B&W and call it art,” doesn’t hold very true. Rather, the axiom “GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out)” is much more accurate. You have to know what will stand out as a black and white image, and that’s what this week’s tip is about. Most – if not all – digital cameras out there have a black-and-white or monochrome setting. For example, my 5D Mark II has a Monochrome setting under the Picture Styles menu, as does my Olympus Micro-Four-Thirds camera. Simply select this setting and shoot. Your subject – whether it’s a portrait or a landscape or a street scene – will be recorded as a black-and-white image. Furthermore, if you want to see what an image will look like in B&W when you adjust your exposure, switch to Live-View on your camera. If you have a smaller, Micro-Four-Thirds or Sony NEX camera, this is what you use anyway to take your shots. You’ll get a live preview of what a B&W image...