If you are into Black and White photography as a beginner, here's a little “secret” that you might find useful for your own.


Never shoot in Black and White


Crazy huh? If you want to shoot black and white, don't set your camera to output Black and White Jpgs. Use color JPGs or better yet, RAW. Depending on the camera, you can shoot even shoot RAW and yet still have your screen in Black and White. Why not? Well it's pretty simple….


Color gives you control

When you shoot in BW, you're pretty much stuck with whatever shade of Grey that you have. While if you shot in color first and then converted into BW, you could assign a different shade of grey for each color.




Let's take the color Blue for example. If I shot in BW I would be stuck with that grey tone. Yes, I could lighten the overall image or darken the overall image….but it would affect the WHOLE image! While if I shot in color, I could assign to blue a particular shade of grey, red a particular shade or grey, etc, etc.


First example


black-white-photography (2 of 3)


Here's a shot of a dude that looks like he's doing what I would love to do a lot……..sleeping. Anyway. Look at his shirt and his skin tone.




After editing in Lightroom, if I shot in BW Jpg, I would end up and be stuck with the image on the left. But since I shot in RAW, I could go ahead and assign the guy's blue shirt another shade of grey. Since I wanted contrast between the guy's shirt and himself, I made it lighter.


Controlling color in Lightroom

So….how to do it? In Lightroom, look for this panel:




Basically you can tell the colors where to fall. You can say, hey, red! I want you darker than you should be, and you, blue! I want you lighter than you should be:




Now, the cool thing is the weird looking cursor on the top left. Click on it, select the part you want to lighten or darken and click on it. Afterwards simply drag left or right to darken or lighten.


In a nutshell, color offers you semi-local adjustments for your Black and Whites! Why Semi? well because you can't really 100% isolate one part of the image. It's emulates a color filter (still the best option) that you put in front of the lens (to cut down a certain color like red, blue, etc). If you have a blue alien, in a blue shirt with a blue sky background, everything in the image will be affected because they are all blue. Still better than anything!


Example 2:

Let's look at the image below, there's 2 main colors: Blue and Green……




Now let's look at two conversions:




I darkened the blues and I whitened the greens. This shot shows the real power of this trick: Creating contrasts by enhancing the gulf between light and dark. Speaking of contrasts, that fence on the bottom is quite distracting, I'll darken it. Here's the final image:




Street Photography


Can this trick be used for Street Photography? Of course. The issue is that in the streets, there's usually a chaos of color, so the effects might not be as dramatic. Here's a color image:




Here's 4 different ways the image could be converted:




Your mileage may vary, depending on the image and the colors in it. At the end of the day, it's all about control, and shooting in color first allows you to have more control than simply shooting in BW. be yourself stay focused and keep on shooting.


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