Shooting in Black and White!
Updated: Feb 16, 2022
Over the past year I have been making it a priority to shoot in black and white (aka “monochrome”) on many of my photo outings. I am planning to devote some time in each of my workshops this year to have students shot in this mode because I think learning the basics of monochrome will make you a better photographic artist! Many serious photographers still display much of their work in black and white, as it can sometimes be perceived as more “artistic”. Personally, I beleive there is clearly a role for it in my own photography, but find that color images often bring me more joy. Most people looking at photos on devices and screens today, by and large are viewing them in color and largely prefer it that way. My longstanding motto is: “colors are the smiles of nature”! So for me, B&W plays a relatively minor role in my work. Nonetheless, when I am processing photos in Lightroom, I will often hit the monochrome slider to have a look at the image. Looking at an image in this way often lets you see things you might miss in color. Sometimes I am surprised and will proceed with processing in that mode. At the end of the day, you’re left with two elements in B&W: tone and texture. The tones are the shadows and highlights in the image. The texture is all the little variances between the tones. These elements are what make a black and white image work. Not every photo will make a good black and white image; if the tones and textures aren’t there, you will have a weak photo not worthy of your attention. Here are some of my Oregon Coast photos that are shot in monochrome, some of which I think are pretty striking, most notably the first of a giant redwood reaching to the sky. One thing is for sure, shooting at least some of your work in this mode, will definitely sharpen your skills as a photographer! Many modern cameras now have film simulation modes. I especially like shooting with my Fujifilm GFX using one of the monochrome simulations like "Acros". Give Black and white a try and you may be surprised at what you can do in this medium!