After my recent first try at black and white photography, I surfed some photography websites and was given some useful advice for beginners, which I am very happy to pass on.
Illustrating my new-found knowledge required trawling back through my albums and looking for shots that I thought could benefit from getting the black and white treatment.
TIP 1: Shoot in colour first.
This is easy, since it’s what I’ve always done. I even managed to find the icon on my photo editing program that with a single click turns a basic colour snap into an evocative black and white image, thus making me look like an artist who knows his stuff.
TIP 2: Look for patterns and textures.
Fine, I sometimes remember to look for patterns, or things in rows. Textures aren’t quite as apparent when shooting colour; I need to look out more for stone walls and shadows on rough bark.
TIP 3: Silhouettes work well in black and white.
This one is no problem for me. I’m not good at controlling depth of field, so my eye is often drawn to a strong silhouette. That lonely tree on the horizon is a bit of cliché, but it works time and again.
TIP 4: Look for interesting cloud formations.
My brother-in-law and keen cyclist Jaap is fond of saying that ‘Nederland has the most beautiful skies in the world.’ Is this just because in a flat land the sky is more noticeable, or is there another explanation?
TIP 5: Black and white can make old-fashioned things look older.
Holland is an excellent place for this. I’m usually too shy to shove my camera into the face of a senior citizen saying, ‘Your wrinkles will look wonderful in black and white’, but there is no shortage of old buildings.
TIP 6: Shoot RAW if your camera will allow this. It gives you more possibilities for reworking shots afterwards.
This assumes I know something about reworking shots in the first place. More surfing of photography websites or reading of handbooks is required.
There is much I still have to learn about photography, black and white in particular, so feel free to add your own tips below. Maybe someone can save me the trouble of reading all those instructions.