Use the Black & White filter

Good black and white images are about much more than simply turning down the saturation. You’re removing all of this colour information – which is providing much of the mood and character – and your challenge is to describe the scene and create the atmosphere just as well without it. This is achieved through tonality.

When simply desaturating a colour image, you’ll typically find that most elements become dull shades of grey. In a landscape shot, you might have a medium grey for the grass, and a slightly lighter one for the sky. It’s dull because the image isn’t conveying a detailed and dynamic scene; it’s conveying blotches of grey. A good black and white image appears much more three-dimensional. Every detail, from the blades of grass to the sky against the clouds, will be making good use of the available tonal range.

In black and white film photography, this is partly achieved through the use of colour filters over the camera’s lens to control where the tone is brought out. For example, a red filter will make a blue sky dark, while leaving clouds pale. Using these, you can ensure your tone is where you need it to best display the scene.



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