You! Be Inspired! – Tips and Stunning Examples of Black and White Photography

Articles September 17, 2012

Black and white photography can be challenging especially for new and aspiring photographers today when most people see and define beautiful photos are made up of beautiful colors. However, more and more professional photographers apply this technique for which photographing in monochrome can introduce a whole new character from a familiar subject. It creates a certain feel that even non photographers can connect. A recently taken photo when transformed into black and white can introduce a new perspective, bring back old memories and create a stunning and more artistic effect.

 

"95" | Photography by Thomas Holtkoetter via YouTheDesigner

“95″ | Photography by Thomas Holtkoetter | (Source)

Another reason why black and white photography is still popular is that color can sometimes be a distraction. It takes away the focus of the audience in certain important elements of the photo like shape and form, texture, lighting and tonal contrast. These elements of a good photograph are mostly emphasized and seen over photos in black and white, monochrome, infrared, etc. Learning and experimenting with taking pictures in this format takes a better understanding of how the elements of good photography must be properly incorporated in different techniques.

 

"WD40" | Photography by Tim Tadder via YouTheDesigner

“WD40″ | Photography by Tim Tadder | (Source)

 

As a part of your daily dose of inspiration, we here at YTD have collected some of the most stunning photographs in black and white including some important notes on different elements to help you improve taking pictures in this format.


 

Subject

Choosing the right subject for your photograph is very essential. Although anything around you can be a nice subject when seen in a different angle and applied with good photo-taking technique, not all photo subjects can be good looking in black and white format. A beautiful sunrise that keeps the refreshing feeling through the vibrant hues of the sun and the skies can look dull and sad when transformed into black and white. Learning to see your subject in black and white right before you shoot them is an effective technique although it requires more practice and experimenting.

 

"Rani" | Photography by Robert via YouTheDesigner

“Rani” | Photography by Robert | (Source)

 

"Tired" | Photography by Khalid Aziz via YouTheDesigner

“Tired” | Photography by Khalid Aziz | (Source)

 

"Face" | Photography by Meng Jason via YouTheDesigner

“Face” | Photography by Meng Jason | (Source)

 

Street Photography by Iannis Psallidakos via YouTheDesigner

Street Photography by Iannis Psallidakos | (Source)

 


 

Tone

Digital photography today makes the audience see photographs in color more often. In black and white format, colors are converted to shades of gray. Lighter colors are the highlights which portray open and free feelings. The darker colors on the other hand become darker shades which convey a sad or empty mood. The relative difference on both shades is called tonal contrast. This element is used to create dramatic scenes over an image of completely different mood when in colored.

 "Genius" | Photography by Dean Bradshaw via YouTheDesigner

“Genius” | Photography by Dean Bradshaw | (Source)

 

"Red Deer - On White" | Photography by George Wheelhouse via YouTheDesigner

“Red Deer – On White” | Photography by George Wheelhouse | (Source)

 

"Arbore, Ari and Banna Tribes" | Photography by Ralph Bennett Crignola via YouTheDesigner

“Arbore, Ari and Banna Tribes” | Photography by Ralph Bennett Crignola | (Source)

 

"When Dance Becomes A Poem" | Photography by Georgi Andinov via YouTheDesigner

“When Dance Becomes A Poem” | Photography by Georgi Andinov | (Source)

 


 

Lighting

Lighting does the trick in making the great details in black and white photography. Remember that you are not using the variations of different colors in making the details more vivid and arranged. You must make sure you have enough light to capture and highlight all the details of your subject. Knowing the right amount of light to use as well as its source and direction can help you capture the perfect angle of the subject in different settings and perspective.

 

"Faces" (part 2) | Photography by Khalid Aziz via YouTheDesigner

“Faces” (part 2) | Photography by Khalid Aziz  | (Source)

 

"Dog Portrait" | Photography by Marko Savic via YouTheDesigner

“Dog Portrait” | Photography by Marko Savic | (Source)

 

"Portraits" | Photography by Robert Harrison via YouTheDesigner

“Portraits” | Photography by Robert Harrison | (Source)

 

"Stairway to nowhere" | Photography by Fabio Ornago via YouTheDesigner

“Stairway to nowhere” | Photography by Fabio Ornago | (Source)

 

Photography by Lawrence del Mundo via YouTheDesigner

Photography by Lawrence del Mundo | (Source)

 

"From Mine to Market - the Diamond Story" | Photography by The New Cruelty via YouTheDesigner

“From Mine to Market – the Diamond Story” | Photography by The New Cruelty | (Source)

 


 

Shapes, Forms, Lines and Patterns

Shape is interpreted by blocks of light and dark areas in your black and white photo. Most likely, shape is the subject’s appearance in two dimensions. A silhouette of a certain subject is considered as a shape in your photo. Form on the other hand depicts how your subject looks like in three dimensions. The form in black and white pays attention to the shadows and flowing lines. The subject can look three dimensional using side lighting and casting shadows. Lines however convey tension and movement in your photograph which are mostly seen over photos of moving subjects. Patterns like lines are often disregarded in colored images but clearly emphasized when transformed in monochrome.

 

Photography by Sam Weinstein via YouTheDesigner

Photography by Sam Weinstein | (Source)

 

"My Switzerland" | Photography by Carole Lulu Lauener via YouTheDesigner

“My Switzerland” | Photography by Carole Lulu Lauener | (Source)

 

"Slices of Silence" | Photography by Nathan Wirth via YouTheDesigner

“Slices of Silence” | Photography by Nathan Wirth | (Source)

 

"City of Fog" | Photography by Martin Stavars via YouTheDesigner

“City of Fog” | Photography by Martin Stavars  | (Source)

 

"Subway Black and White" | Photography by voogac via YouTheDesigner

“Subway Black and White” | Photography by voogac | (Source)

 

"Untitled" | Photography by Nydia Lilian via YouTheDesigner

“Untitled” | Photography by Nydia Lilian | (Source)

 


 

Texture

Texture looks great in black and white. A rusty metal, a dirty wall of a building or the wrinkled face of an old woman are some of the best examples of subjects that look good in black and white format. It defines realism on the subject and when applied with good lighting condition creates a whole new look and produces details that are not appreciated in full color photographs.

 

"Portrait in Train" | Photography by Kimhwan SEOULIST via YouTheDesigner

“Portrait in Train” | Photography by Kimhwan SEOULIST  | (Source)

 

"BODIE" | Photography by Dhiren Babaria via YouTheDesigner

“BODIE” | Photography by Dhiren Babaria | (Source)

 

"BODIE" | Photography by Dhiren Babaria via YouTheDesigner

“BODIE” | Photography by Dhiren Babaria | (Source)

 

"Sikh Temple, Dubai" | Photography by Khalid Aziz via YouTheDesigner

“Sikh Temple, Dubai” | Photography by Khalid Aziz | (Source)

 

  "Black and White Lion" | Photography by DanielleMiner via YouTheDesigner

“Black and White Lion” | Photography by DanielleMiner  | (Source)

 

"H A N D S" | Photography by Robert Harrison via YouTheDesigner

“H A N D S” | Photography by Robert Harrison | (Source)

 

Black and white photography is a great choice among photography professionals and enthusiasts because it tells the stories beyond reality and interprets it clearly in a new level of art form;  it connotes an old classic fineness; and it is plain, simple and fun. So its now time to browse through your archives of previous shots, you’ll never know – the colored photo you think was a failure before can be a stunning piece of art in black and white.

 

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Kerby is an online marketer who has a keen eye in print design and creative artworks. When not at work, he spends most of his time in completing his sketchbooks with doodles and illustrations from anything that inspires him to draw. He is an avid fan of Japanese Anime, manga and some comic book characters. Check out his illustration blog and portfolio for more info.

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