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Black & White Photography —
How to Create Great Specialty Photos

Black & white contrast photograpyThe black and white effect is used by artists and fashion photographers to create abstracts or ‘other worldly’ images.

The camera equipment required in black & white is not very different than other types of photography, but the key actually lies in the processing and printing quality. This is an important area of emphasis in black & white photographs in order to get the desired effect.

If you are using a film or digital camera, you may need an assortment of lenses for different situations – such as a combination of wide-angle lens as well as a standard lens. If you want to experiment with black and white photography, many successful shots can be captured using the equipment you already own.

If you want large prints, you may need a camera with a high-resolution digital image sensor for sharpness of large format prints. The resolution should be more than 3 mega pixels.

Contrast, contrast, contrast

Since color is not available to draw the viewers eye into the photo, the use of lights and darks are all-important in black and white photography.

Removing color from the photo fixes the eye on the details of the image. This allows the photographer to control the experience of the image in ways that are not possible when colors are present.

black and white photography example

black and white photo with enchanced contrast
Bump up the contrast on a visually appealing shot to add drama and to enhance the mood.

Whether you develop your photographs in the darkroom (traditional film based camera) or process the pictures digitally, when you develop the picture yourself you have the leeway to heighten or reduce the contrasts in your pictures based on the type of impression and visual impact you hope to create. You can also scan from traditionally processed negatives onto a computer and then process the images digitally.

Graphics software

To fine-tune the images digitally you need some basic knowledge of Photoshop or other professional level graphics software. Without manipulating the main picture in any way, you can enhance your black and white images by fine-tuning the contrasts.
Graphics software assists in optimizing the images. The principles are the same as those used in a traditional darkroom.

 Using computer graphics programs you can apply various techniques like dodging (you selectively lighten a certain portion of a photo), cropping, optimizing density and fine tuning the contrasts. Fine tuning the contrasts is important in creating the right effect in black and white.

Most good graphics programs allow you to change a color photo into a black and white rendition. You may want to start out by experimenting with some of your old color images to see what dramatic effects you can get by playing with the brightness and contrast. This will help to train your eye when you go out and shoot in black & white.

The print quality is another important factor in creating high impact black & white photographs. If you intend to print digitally processed images, you need a good printer and long lasting ink in your printer. You should also use photo quality, non acid based paper to print your images.


Author...
Chris Haslego

More about black & white photography around the Web:

Black & White World

black and white photography tips

Digital Black and White in Photoshop

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