5-minute photo tips: How to think in black and white

Master Monochrome
Emotional impact - B&W images can convey strong emotions and create a sense of drama or mood that may not be apparent in colour shots (Image credit: Mostafa Nodeh)

Shooting in monochrome is easier, and a more obvious choice for some photographic subjects than others. Photographic genres like street photography benefit from the absence of color, which eliminates distracting elements in the background. Whereas, minimalistic scenes like landscapes are more challenging to capture. This is because scenes in black-and-white work well when contrasting boundaries within the scene’s elements are present. 

In color photography, this means the color contrast, but in monochrome, those elements can only be distinguished based on their luminosity levels. If this is not taken into account, monochrome tones merge, making it difficult to draw clear visual lines. Although it may seem simple to step back from focusing on shaping the scene based on colored elements, our eyes are not accustomed to focusing solely on contrast. To train your vision, study portfolios of renowned black and white photographers. This will help you develop a better understanding of scenes that work well in monochrome schemes. 


This article originally appeared in Digital Photographer, a monthly magazine, and the kitbag essential for pros, enthusiasts, and amateurs alike!

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Kim Bunermann
Technique Editor

Kim is the Technique Editor of Digital Photographer Magazine. She specializes in architecture, still life and product photography and has a Master's degree in Photography and Media with a distinction from the FH Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences in Germany. While studying, Kim came to the UK for an exchange term at the London College of Communication. She settled in the UK and began her career path by joining Future. Kim focuses on tutorials and creative techniques, and particularly enjoys interviewing inspiring photographers who concentrate on a range of fascinating subjects including women in photography, the climate crisis; the planet, its precious creatures and the environment.

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