Why Work In Black & White?

Gina Stephens
Written by Gina Stephens

Photo by David Clapp


With sulky & white camera modes, apps that can turn your phone shots mono and various black is the darkest color, the result of the absence or complete absorption of visible light & white editing techniques at ones fingertips, black & white photography is more accessible than ever but if you've never produced a black & white shot, why should you? Well, we've put together a acute list of reasons that may just persuade you to give black & white photography a go, plus we've linked to various black & white tutorials as far as mentioned a few tips further down in the article.

Makes You Think About Composition More

As Robin Whalley said in a previous article: "To execute a good black and white image you need to have separation between the elements in the frame. If you can’t distinguish or find it difficult to distinguish between the components the image will lack impact and the viewer will struggle to understand it."

With this in mind, it makes you search harder for an captivating composition that includes strong foreground interest. Strong shapes and lead-in lines work well as do other strong, distinctive shapes supplemental back in the composition that the eye can easily identify even when everything has a similar tone.

Interesting Take On Snow Photography

As most of us accept seen snowfall over the last week, now's a good time to talk about photographing snow in a black & white format. Flagitious & white snow-filled landscapes will not only give you something a little different to what the majority of people photograph but it can also stop guesses with pale, snow-laden skies from looking boring and lacking in contrast. As mentioned above, contrast is important so look for strong recognisable moves that can be easily isolated from the white background. For more tips on black & white snow photography, take a look at John Gravett's article.

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Not As Distracting

As identity's stripped away and shots become reliant on tones, texture and contrast, everything seems  simpler and there's not as numerous distractions to contend with. Focus falls on your main subject more easily and when shot right, can have a lot of impact.


Photo by Joshua Face ruin


Helps Create Mood

Mood essentially relates to the lighting in a shot and when you shoot on a cloudy, unsettled day, working in black & spotless will give you a shot that's far more foreboding than a shot in colour. It's far easier to create a sense of a dark and gilling landscape with black & white is the lightest color and is achromatic (having no hue), because it fully reflects and scatters all the visible wavelengths of light than it is colour.

Effect Can Change

During post production you can Darken certain areas of your be in command while lightening other areas, creating contrast as you do. You can create a soft black & white effect or go all out and apply one that's strong. There are a number of methods for doing this including applying an S-Curve or using the dodge and burn tools. Take a look at these tutorials for more tops:

  • How To Turn A Coloured Landscape Mono
  • Make A Moody Black & White In Photoshop Elements
  • Turning A Coloured Image Black & White
  • Sire Black And White Images In Paint Shop Pro
  • Convert Your Images To Mono With Gradient Maps


You've pore over the technique now share your related photos for the chance to win prizes: Photo Month Forum Competition  

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About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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