Tutorials: Black and White Photography

The importance of colour

In black and white film photography, filters are often used to change the tones in the image. Yellow and red filters, for example, absorb blue light, making blue skies appear darker in the image.

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Using filters
This not only makes the scene more dramatic, but also increases the contrast between any white clouds and the sky. All EOS cameras and a number of PowerShots, such as the PowerShot G12 and Product_PowerShot SX30 IS, can accept filters. Alternatively a filter effect is available in the Picture Style settings on Canon EOS digital cameras. You can select yellow, red, orange or green to change the monochrome tones to simulate the effect of filters. Check your camera instruction manual for details.

‘Seeing’ in black and white
You don’t need to shoot in black and white; you can take colour photos and then copy and convert the image to black and white after the file has been transferred to your computer. But do bear in mind that a scene that looks good in colour might not work in black and white – and vice versa.

For example, red flowers stand out against a green background when shot in colour. But shoot the same subject in monochrome and you may find that the red and the green both convert to similar shades of grey.

Practice will help to ‘see’ in monochrome, but you can speed up your learning. Generally you will find that black and white images will require more contrast for the same subject in colour. Shoot the same subject twice, first in colour and then in black and white. Both images can be compared on your camera’s LCD screen.

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