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How to Create Flawless Black and White Pictures

There’s is just something so timeless about a black and white photo.

Even with the thousands of filtering and photoshopping options available today, black and white photos retain an elegance that colored photos simply cannot capture.

However, there are ways to go beyond basic black and white to make these photos even more professional looking and beautiful.

Keep reading to learn how to create flawless black and white pictures.

1. Look for Texture and Contrast

Contrasting colors help bring photos to life.

Unfortunately, a lot of this contrast gets lost when you switch to black and white, as the once vibrant colors change to shades of gray.

Therefore, in order to make black and white pictures captivating, you need to make sure there’s a stark contrast. Look for scenes that contain a lot of dark and light contrast as well as texture.

Clouds in the sky, bark on the trees, patterns on rugs and carpets- the list goes on and on.

2. Find a Wide Range of Grays

White and black help add intrigue to a picture.

However, if you don’t include varying shades of gray as well, the picture will look quite dull.

In order to produce a wider range of grays, make use of the flash. This will throw shadows and highlights over certain parts of the photo.

3. Use a Polarizer

The sun’s reflection can be extremely distracting once the color is removed from a photo.

Many surfaces, such as leaves and water, are magnets for the sun’s reflection.

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A polarizer can be extremely useful when shooting reflective surfaces. This is because polarizers cut the reflection of the sun’s light.

4. Look For Patterns

Color often distracts us from appreciating patterns.

Black and white photos, on the other hand, tend to make patterns much more compelling. Start looking for more and more patterns to shoot in black and white.

A row of cars, shoes lined up against the wall, bicycles lined on a rack- soon you will be noticing patterns everywhere.

5. Exposure is Your Friend

Long exposure shots can help you create more dramatic black and white photos.

Increased exposure time is particularly useful when shooting a moving object against a non-moving object. For example, a  shot of a rushing stream against a rock or a moving cloud against a building would benefit from long exposure.

Typically, moving objects, such as water and clouds, give you a brighter exposure. This brighter exposure can add a nice contrast to your photo (just like we talked about earlier.)

Use a strong neutral density filter to help capture the movement without overexposing the photo.

6. Avoid Bad Subjects

Although there is no subject that is off-limits for a black and white photo, you’ll notice that some simply do look better in color.

For example, a blank sky without any stark cloud contrast tends to look extremely washed out in black and white. Also, photos that rely on color for contrast, mood, or impact often fail to convert well to black and white.

Black and White Pictures: Have Fun!

We hope these tips make your next black and white photography session more enjoyable.

As always, be sure to drop a comment if you have any questions about shooting in black and white. And be sure to check out our blog for more photography tips!