Black and White Top Tips Page 4

16 Watch and learn
B&W is hugely popular with teachers and students of photography, as it teaches novice photographers how to objectively examine the compositional elements of a scene. Without the inevitable distractions of colour, camera users can practise their compositional techniques, and learn how elements interact with one another within the proportions of the frame. If you’re new to creative photography, experiment with your camera’s black & white mode to seek out effective compositions – the result of this exercise will improve both your colour and black and white shooting technique.

17 Highlight warning

Lost shadows are a lot easier to recover in Photoshop than lost highlights. Which is why most enthusiast cameras feature an overexposure warning option among the review modes, in which areas of blown highlights flash on the LCD. If this happens, reduce the exposure either by using the exposure compensation dial or metering off a darker-toned area, then re-shoot.

18 Black and white preview
Even though most photographers agree that it’s best to shoot in colour, your camera’s black & white mode can be useful for previewing scenes and subjects in black and white, to give you an idea of what a scene would look like in monochrome. It’s a great help for people who aren’t used to ‘seeing’ in black and white.

19 Exposure matters
The most accurate exposure is not always the most effective, especially when it comes to black & white photography, so don’t follow your meter reading slavishly. Exposure is subjective in any case – ‘correct’ depends on where in the tonal range your most important element lies. The camera will try to provide an even balance between highlights and shadows, but by taking a selective reading from the darker or lighter areas of the scene a completely different mood will be created – one which may have a lot more impact and atmosphere than the average reading would create. Try using the bracketing feature to get a range of exposures of the same scene.

20 Grain of truth

While experts have spent years developing films that are resistant to grain, this once-undesirable side effect of traditional photography has become inextricably linked to many people’s appreciation of black and white imagery. The association between film grain and black and white photography has become (quite literally) ingrained in the public’s perception to the extent that digital black and white images can often appear too clean and, well, ‘digital’. Most image-editing programs offer an Add Noise feature that can be used to introduce grain to pictures, while increasing your camera’s ISO will often have a similar effect at the shooting stage.