How to Take Better Black and White Photos

A black and white photograph can provoke powerful emotions and convey artistry. Symmetry, shadows and textures can be revealed in a black and white picture that appear flat in full color. This article describes how to “train the eyes” to see the world in black and white.

Things you’ll need:

A camera

Red sunglasses

1 I was introduced to making black and white pictures in high school with a film camera. The intention was to produce a striking image with depth, shadows, textures and a feeling of emotion. One way to do this is to simply take many pictures and hope that they come out well in black and white. Another way is to train your eyes to see in black and white. I was walking in the desert around Nelson, Nevada and stumbled upon this abandoned gas pump. It was set against a bunch of rusted junk and green shrubbery. The pump was rusted where the old paint had peeled off. Since the pump was white and the green of the shrubs would be dark in a black and white photo, I decided this was a good subject.

2 Buy a pair of red sunglasses. I discovered by accident (after finding a pair) that red sunglasses would make greens darker and give a good idea of whether an image would look striking in black and white.

3 Walk around and look at the world with your cheap red sunglasses. It will seem odd at first but eventually you’ll see shapes, shadows, symmetry and lines. These are elements that make black and white photography work. This photo is of the gas pump as you would see it with through your cheap red sunglasses. The red filter shows the contrast between the white pump, rust and black letters. It also shows how the greens will darken in greyscale.

4 The final step is to capture your image and process it in your favorite photo editing software. Picasa, the free google application has a variety of black and white editing functions. Photoshop offers a multitude of controls to tweak and perfect your image to your artistic taste. The old saying, “looking at the world through rose colored glasses,” can be a photographic training tool. Red colored sunglasses will even show you the potential for infrared simulated photographs.

A black and white photograph can provoke powerful emotions and convey artistry. Symmetry, shadows and textures can be revealed in a black and white picture that appear flat in full color. This article describes how to “train the eyes” to see the world in black and white.

Instructions

Things you’ll need:

A camera

Red sunglasses through rose colored glasses,” can be a photographic training tool. Red colored sunglasses will even show you the potential for infrared simulated photographs.

Tips & Warnings

Have fun hunting for great black and white photograph opportunities.

If you’re driving with your cheap red sunglasses on, beware that it’s hard to see green lights.