We’re used to seeing the world in full color, and it can be difficult to understand how those colors translate into shades of gray. “It’s hard to get your brain to know that a really bright red is going to come out pretty much the same as that deep blue in your final image,” explains Long. Help your eye to compose photos in black and white by creating lots of color-free photos. Experiment with shooting bright colors in black and white, too, so you can see how objects change in monochrome.
Different subjects train your eye in new ways. Black-and-white portrait photography is another great way to practice and build skills. “I highly encourage beginners to photograph either strangers or people that they don’t know,” Long says. When you photograph someone you don’t know, you don’t have any preconceived notions about them or how the photograph should look. Consider trying some black-and-white street photography, and you might just capture something interesting or unexpected.
Experiment with mood and emotion in your black-and-white photos by changing exposure and contrast levels. Tweaking these settings can help you understand how tone affects a photograph and the story that photo is telling. By highlighting the midtones, you can make an image more calm or relaxing. By creating high contrast and eliminating the midtones, you instantly make it more dramatic. Depending on your artistic goals, either tactic could be effective.
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