Black and White Photography

Black and white photography, how do I do that on my camera?

What is it?

I have mentioned before that in terms of the photographic process, not much has changed over the last 100 or so years, yes cameras don’t use film, they have auto focus and metering systems and much much more, so why do some people only shoot in black and white?  In this blog post I will give you some reasons when and why I shoot in black and white.

How do I use it on my camera?

Every camera model does black and white photography differently, but in your menu you will have the ability to make your camera shoot in black and white, on a Canon camera it is part of the “Picture Style” menu.

BEFORE you make this change please note, if you are shooting “JPG” only, the images you take will only be black and white and will not be able to be changed to colour in any way.

I shoot both RAW and JPG, which allows me to get a JPG which is black and white and a RAW file which I can process and get a colour image from it.

You can of course remove the colour from a colour image using photo editing software, by adjusting the saturation of the image, but in my opinion I prefer it when the camera does it, I get much nicer blacks and crisper whites, but its only my opinion.  

What does it do to my pictures?

By using black and white, you can change the mood of a picture, remove a highlight from a picture where something brightly coloured would distract the subject or just enjoy the highlights tones and shadows of the subject that you are capturing.


black and white photographyIn these two examples, the bright colours take your eye away from the scene, and distract the viewer dragging their eye to the bright colours instead of exploring the scene.

black and white photographyIn this image I was shooting the duckling (with a Canon of course) through some reeds on the river bank, even though the reeds are very out of focus, this was done by using a very small aperture, the colour distracts the eye away from the duckling.   

black and white photographyWith this image, the dynamic range was quite large a HDR could have been used to get colour in the sky and the details under the trees, however in black and white the slightly overexposed sky is grey and the slightly under exposed sections in the trees are black.  The eye is drawn to the correctly exposed light post.

black and white photographyWhilst doing the wedding dance the DJ decided that his 4 colour disco lights were very cool, the light from them however really messed with the white balance of the ambient lights, by changing to black and white, the images are only of the moments being captured, and not the crazy colours in the picture.

Try This

Grab your cameras manual, or google how to change your camera to black and white, go out and have some fun. That’s what photography is all about, experimenting and trying new things.

What are your thoughts?