Secrets to great black and white photos.

Learn more about black and white photography, plus some valuable tips for adding visual interest so you can capture stunning photos every time.

Black and white photography can offer timeless (and often dramatic) effects. But getting great photos isn’t as simple as just switching your settings to “B&W.” Since you don’t have the whole spectrum of color to add interest and contrast, it takes a little more planning. Here are some tips for making your black and white photos really stand out.

1. Start with your settings.

Keep your aperture and ISO settings as low as possible. In most cases, you’ll want to avoid any graininess or noise, which can take away from the dramatic impact you’re creating by shooting in black and white. These settings will help steer you in the direction of crisp and clear photos.

2. Look for contrast.

Contrast is perhaps the most important element when shooting great black and white photos, as it adds visual interest to your scene. This means a portion of your photo may be near to pure white, while another section may be near to pure black.

Think of a portrait where half of your subject is in light and the other half is in shadows, or a dark valley set against a bright sky.

3. Use the rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds is just as useful (and powerful) in black and white photography as it is with color images. This rule of photo composition places your subject in the left or right third of an image, leaving the other two-thirds more open. Use this principle to pull the viewer’s eye to your desired point of interest.

4. Introduce texture.

Since you’re not using color to add contrast to your photos, try to seek out texture instead for added interest. Textures add visual complexity as well as highlights and shadows. This could be anything from craggy tree bark to brick walls covered in vines.

Discover other helpful photo techniques.

And explore what more you can do with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom as you start shooting in black and white.