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Black and white Photography tips - 500 different shades of grey!

In this article I would like to share some tips that I find important when I take black and white photos.

A bridge over one of the canals in Amsterdam centrum

Black and white photo of an old bridge in Amsterdam centrum. How many shades of grey can you see?

Black and white photos is not only black and white but obviously also a lot of grey. Everything between pure black and white is a shade of grey, actually it exist more than 500 different shades of grey, however the human eye can only distinguish between around 30 of them!

Now that we know this, let's see what we can make out of it!

Light and shadows:

When you think of a landscape it is usually a lot of colours involved, however landscapes can also look amazing if not even more powerful if created in monochrome.

Photography started in black and white but despite all the new technology introduced since that time, it feels like a challenge to create a great black and white photo.By taking away all the colours and reducing photography to only textures, tones and lines, make a photographer touche the essence of photography.

The contrast is an extremely important aspect when creating black and white photos since light and shadows become one of the main tool, so in order to find contrast you need to look for light or shadows in the scene.

Young Labrador retriever smiling at the camera

Patterns and shapes:

A black and white photo can bring out patterns or shapes that you would not normally notice in a colour photography. When shooting black and white landscapes, patterns and shapes like clouds, rocks and trees can often be used as a compositional tool.

Seagull aligned with a naked tree, the sun is shining true and makes a nice reflection on the water.

Black and white Composition:

Because there is no colour to attract the viewer in black and white compositions, photographers often base the composition on plays between pattern, shapes of objects, light and tones. A good tip is to include a foreground, use for example a rock or a tree, to create an effect of contrast or leading lines.

B&W photo taken close to De Hoge Veluwe National Park.

Is black and white photography losing its popularity?

I don’t believe so, however it is a lot more colour photography going on, specially on Instagram and other social media, so I would like to ask you to share your opinion on this matter. Why isn't there more black and white photos being created?

Please post a comment below and tell me what you think about black and white photography.

Photo credits: Kenneth Brathen.

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