Black and white Photography tips – 500 different shades of grey!

In this article I would like to share some tips that I find important when I take black and white photos.

Black and white photos is not only black and white but obviously also a lot of grey. Everything between pure black and white is a shade of grey, actually it exist more than 500 different shades of grey, however the human eye can only distinguish between around 30 of them!

Black and white photo of an old bridge in Amsterdam centrum.
Black and white photo of an old bridge in Amsterdam centrum. How many shades of grey can you see?

Now that we know this, let’s see what we can make out of it!

Light and shadows:

When you think of a landscape it is usually a lot of colours involved, however landscapes can also look amazing if not even more powerful if created in monochrome.

Photography started in black and white but despite all the new technology introduced since that time, it feels like a challenge to create a great black and white photo. By taking away all the colours and reducing photography to only textures, tones and lines, make a photographer touche the essence of photography.

The contrast is an extremely important aspect when creating black and white photos since light and shadows become one of the main tool, so in order to find contrast you need to look for light or shadows in the scene.

MKK_4536-2
Seagull aligned with a naked tree, the sun is shining true and makes a nice reflection on the water.

Patterns and shapes:

A black and white photo can bring out patterns or shapes that you would not normally notice in a colour photography. When shooting black and white landscapes, patterns and shapes like clouds, rocks and trees can often be used as a compositional tool.

MKK_4578
Old weathered tree, leaning towards the water, in the park.

Black and white Composition:

Because there is no colour to attract the viewer in black and white compositions, photographers often base the composition on plays between pattern, shapes of objects, light and tones. A good tip is to include a foreground, use for example a rock or a tree, to create an effect of contrast or leading lines.

B&W photo taken close to De Hoge Veluwe National
B&W photo taken close to De Hoge Veluwe National Park.

In the photo above I used the road as a leading line and the two different types of trees on each side makes a nice contrast.

Is black and white photography loosing its popularity?

I don’t believe so, however it is a lot more colour photography going on, specially on Instagram and other social media, so I would like to ask you to share your opinion on this matter. Why isn’t there more black and white photos being created?

Please post a comment below and tell me what you think about black and white photography.

 

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16 thoughts on “Black and white Photography tips – 500 different shades of grey!

  1. Thanks for this article, nice!
    Black and white IS photography to me… as photography is writing with light

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really love the bridge and street shots!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you John, so do I ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing your tips on black and white. I’m appreciating the beauty of it more. I’m a newbie in photography so your post is a big help. By the way, you have great photos 🙂.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for these tips re: black & white photography. I really liked what you said about using foreground, or a rock or tree to help with composition.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind feedback Silver✌

      Like

  5. Does nature go well with photography

    Liked by 1 person

  6. nice photos with the black and white

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Discussing Instagram and other social media is rather senseless. All the media are like modern plagues without cure. Freedom has many names, everyone can choose whatever he wants and how much will suit him.

    BTW. The first image shows mishmash, the second and third are artificially dimmed what’s easily visible, but the fourth image is what I like to find in photography zones (or spheres). It resembles negative, weird but unique. Looking on the black on the left not trying to see the trunks, treating the right part as a white tree texture, it creates something disturbing. The end at the leading lines is white, damn, why? Bushes? What’s the blackness, switching negative to positive in mind? Or vice versa, negative trees, black sky and the white ending. Something doesn’t fit, why? I like such thinking. 🙂
    Regards

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts around my work. Really appreciate it!

      Like

  8. I don’t really know how to answer your question, if not with “maybe because there are a lot more instagram filters for coloured photos?”, but I guess that it then becomes a chicken or egg situation. Anyway, as an amateur photographer who is just starting to get re-aquatinted with a camera after a few years of no cameras, I really appreciated your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback Caterina, it is a hard question I asked, appreciate your troughs.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. In the Amsterdam photo, there is a feeling the water is actually moving. In the eagle photo, the sun’s reflection on the water is incredible in B&W as opposed to color. In the De Hoge photo, it almost seems like the trees have snow on them. Fantastic B&W photos.
    Donna

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your nice comment, I really appreciate! I changed the name on the bird, lol, it is a seagull and not an eagle.. my bad!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wonderful shots. I have always thought there is something special about black-and-white photography, something that gets lost with colors. I like the picture of the street best, probably because of the special contrasts. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your positive feedback! Yes I agree with you. I find that black and white photos can have a special atmosphere that colors distracts from. ☺

      Liked by 1 person

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