The submit Black and White Nonetheless Life Images: Tips on how to Do It (And Why It Issues) appeared first on Digital Images Faculty. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

Within the quest to enhance your pictures, typically one of the best method is to decelerate, think about the fundamentals, and be purposeful and deliberate. Working in black and white will try this. Making nonetheless life photos will try this.

Mix the 2, and also you get black and white nonetheless life pictures – which is a wonderful option to make some nice photos and turn into a greater photographer when you’re at it.

black and white still life of an hourglass
Certainly one of my most profitable photos of all time is that this very minimalistic monochrome composition. It faucets into the facility of black and white and nonetheless life.

The facility of monochrome

I’ll typically use the phrases monochrome and black and white interchangeably, however there’s a delicate distinction.

Black and white pictures are simply that: photos with tones from white by black and all shades of grey, however with no coloration info in any respect.

A monochrome picture, however, may need a coloration tint. As an illustration, you possibly can create a heat, sepia-toned shot or a cool, cyanotype picture. A single coloration – with numerous shades – can be current within the picture.

black and white boot in sepia
A sepia-toned picture is monochrome, however not black and white within the purest sense.

However notice that this text applies to each black and white pictures and monochrome pictures equally.

Why black and white?

Early photographers had no selection as a result of they couldn’t shoot in coloration. Monochrome photos have been all they may make.

After all, this in the end was not a severe limitation; lots of the most iconic images ever taken are black and white. Absolutely even non-photographers have seen what is likely to be one of the well-known black and white nonetheless life pictures of all time, “Pepper No. 30” by Edward Weston. And I can confidently say that Weston’s picture wouldn’t be higher if it had been made in coloration.

Right this moment, the default selection of most photographers is coloration. As a result of our world is in coloration – as are a lot of the pictures we encounter – “seeing” in black and white is a talent you need to develop.

You could study to have a look at a topic with a watch towards the fundamentals – the “bones” of a picture, if you’ll. Form, kind, tone, and texture are these bones, and one of the best black and white photos play to these strengths, the place coloration is pointless and even a distraction.

black and white still life photography of a road
Is that this the yellow brick highway? Maybe, however the energy of the shot is “good bones” in all of the areas monochrome excels: form, kind, tone, and texture. It additionally makes use of some good compositional components. Colour will not be wanted.

Studying to see in black and white will, after all, make you a greater black and white photographer. However when you can see in black and white whereas recognizing and benefiting from the structural components of a topic, you’ll turn into a greater coloration photographer, as properly.

Colour then turns into an enhancement to an already-good picture – one with a strong “bone construction” of form, kind, tone, and texture.

Why nonetheless life?

My two favourite genres of pictures are most likely nonetheless life and panorama.


It might be as a result of they’re so reverse. In panorama pictures, you possibly can hardly ever transfer the topics in your scene, you compose by the place you stand, and also you don’t have a lot management over the sunshine. Usually, you need to anticipate the sunshine to be excellent, and also you have to be prepared if and when such a second occurs.

shells in black and white
The weather, the structure, the composition, the lighting, the digicam place; you’re accountable for every thing if you make a nonetheless life picture.

Nonetheless life pictures makes you the grasp. You set the scene, deciding what so as to add in and take out. You prepare the objects for one of the best composition, you select the digicam place, the lighting, and any further parts comprising your shot.

Then, if you’re glad and prepared, you’re taking the picture.

In a phrase, nonetheless life pictures offer you full management.

forks and shadows
The place can you discover topics for black and white nonetheless life pictures? The place can’t you?! How in regards to the silverware drawer? Listed below are some artistic nonetheless lifes with just a few forks.
onion still life
You may additionally discover good nonetheless life topics within the vegetable bin….
still life of root vegetables
…or get again to the “roots of pictures” with a topic like this.
wood abstract
When contemplating topics for black and white nonetheless life pictures, keep in mind what provides a picture “good bones:”
abstract still life
Form, kind…
droplets in black and white
leaf close-up
…and texture.

Then add one other distinct benefit. Contemplate this definition:

“A nonetheless life is a murals depicting largely inanimate subject material, usually commonplace objects that are both pure (meals, flowers, useless animals, vegetation, rocks, shells, and many others.) or man-made (consuming glasses, books, vases, jewellery, cash, pipes, and many others.).”

An actual benefit of nonetheless life pictures is that your topics are nonetheless. They don’t transfer.

So in nonetheless life pictures, it gained’t matter in case your shutter pace is 1/30s or 30 seconds. With the ability to have such flexibility over your selection of aperture, shutter pace, and ISO is big, and it opens up every kind of potentialities that different genres of pictures don’t supply.

Mild portray is a type of distinctive potentialities. Because you don’t need to take care of a shifting topic, you’re free to “paint” a topic with gentle throughout an prolonged publicity.

And this makes for some dramatic nonetheless life pictures:

tabletop still life with grapes and glasses in black and white
A nonetheless life topic that doesn’t transfer lends itself properly to gentle portray. In the event you want a 15-second publicity and nonetheless need to persist with ISO 100, it’s no downside.


Lighting for black and white nonetheless life pictures comes again to the benefit we already recognized:


The lighting devices you select, the modifiers you employ, the variety of lights and their placement – it’s all inside your management.

Let’s break this down a bit extra:

  • White stability – Because you’re processing in black and white, you possibly can ignore the colour temperature of your lighting devices. And this frees you up to make use of every kind of sunshine sources, from flashlights, LEDs, and daylight to candlelight, fluorescent lights, and incandescent lights. Sure, as you change a picture into black and white, the coloration tones will reply in another way. However you possibly can deal with adjusting your black and white tones in case your white stability is initially off. I’ve typically “rescued” impossibly unhealthy coloration photos just by changing to black and white.
  • Placement – We spoke in regards to the “bones” of form, kind, tone, and texture, which exist in all pictures however are extra readily obvious in black and white. In black and white nonetheless life pictures, you get the chance to intensify these “bones” along with your cautious consideration of lighting placement and management. Need to emphasize texture? Rake a tough gentle throughout the topic from the again or aspect at a low angle. Would you like a delicate look? Attempt a broad gentle supply, like a softbox, that illuminates the topic from the entrance. You’ll be able to gentle your topic to create the look and temper you’re after. Because the saying goes, “No guidelines, excellent.”
football with light and shadow
Need to create some dramatic texture? Use a single laborious gentle supply – on this case, a easy flashlight – and rake it throughout your topic’s floor from the aspect.
ping pong paddle in black and white
Or you would have the low, late afternoon solar backlight your topic, once more to emphasise texture.

A digicam trick to assist your visualization

With the intention to make this trick work, you should shoot in RAW.

(Additionally, I extremely advocate you shoot in RAW on a regular basis. Right here’s why that is necessary.)

Now, when capturing in a RAW format, your digicam will all the time seize a coloration picture (and that’s what you need).

The playback picture you see on the rear LCD, nonetheless, will not be the RAW file. As an alternative, it’ll be a JPEG illustration of the picture.

So if you wish to get higher at seeing in black and white, why not change the JPEG to black and white whereas conserving the RAW picture in coloration? That means, after taking a picture, you possibly can instantly see it in monochrome – however you’ll nonetheless preserve all the colour particulars for post-processing later.

Bruce Wunderlich, a fellow dPS author, describes tips on how to arrange your digicam to do that. He promotes it as a option to higher compose coloration pictures, and it’s good for that – but when monochrome is the place you’re headed, it’s much more helpful.

So learn Bruce’s piece, arrange your digicam accordingly, and you’ll have an actual assist in making black and white pictures.

pattern of circles
A nonetheless life doesn’t need to be a tabletop object, nor should or not it’s shot beneath synthetic gentle. This agricultural implement was shot outside in vivid daylight. The story of the shot is the repeating patterns. The yellow and purple colours of the machine would solely have distracted the viewer. Having my LCD set to preview the picture in black and white helped me visualize the shot!

Modifying for black and white

After a session of black and white nonetheless life pictures, you’ll deliver the pictures into post-processing as RAW coloration photos.


Sure. Even when you’ve arrange your digicam utilizing the advice above – the place the LCD shows your photos in black and white – your precise RAW photos are nonetheless in coloration.

That’s factor. It’s throughout enhancing that you’ll convert your pictures to black and white.

This can mean you can decide how numerous colours might be transformed to monochrome. As an illustration, again within the black and white movie days, you would darken the sky by capturing with a purple filter. As a result of the purple filter would block a lot of the blue gentle, the sky was rendered very darkish on the black and white movie.

Right this moment we are able to create these results throughout enhancing. When changing from coloration to monochrome, you possibly can alter the luminance of particular colours (e.g., you possibly can darken the reds, the blues, and the yellows), thus affecting the general look of the picture.

Lightroom gives a pleasant black and white conversion instrument, and there are a variety of fine articles on black and white conversion in Lightroom, akin to this one by Andrew Gibson. You may additionally want to attempt different strategies of black and white conversion. A well-liked possibility is the Nik Silver Efex Professional plug-in from DxO, however there are dozens of different packages and strategies for changing from coloration to black and white.

With out the restrictions of getting to make the colour in a photograph “look proper,” you’re free to creatively take the tonality in your black and white photos wherever your creativity leads you.

apples converted to black and white
The unique picture at left; a black and white conversion with boosted inexperienced luminance within the heart; a black and white conversion with decreased inexperienced luminance on the proper.

Age your picture

Right here’s one other enjoyable black and white nonetheless life pictures trick:

Replicate a classic black and white look!

First, be sure to discover the proper topic. I like to recommend working with previous collectible objects. Then seize the shot and improve it afterward with results akin to sepia firming.

It may be a enjoyable and tutorial train to assemble some objects, arrange a lovely composition, gentle it, {photograph} it, and create a monochrome file full with sepia firming.

period still life
Accumulate some gadgets to create a theme, make your nonetheless life black and white picture, then edit it to provide a “interval look.”
bottles with faded edit
Take your “aged” nonetheless life even additional with some particular results!
black and white still life photography light and old book
Collect some objects, determine the way you need to set your scene, gentle it, take your shot, then go for an vintage look with a sepia tone.
Canon 50D | Canon 50mm f/1.8 | 1/15s | f/22 | ISO 800

Black and white nonetheless life pictures: Now go do it!

You’ll be able to and will learn up on the ideas and strategies of pictures, however there’s solely to date “guide studying” will take you.

Black and white nonetheless life pictures will sluggish you down, make you assume, focus your efforts, and drive you to actually examine issues.

You simply need to dive in and do it!

So collect some topics, determine tips on how to prepare and light-weight them, decide the place you need to place your digicam, what focal size you’ll use, how you’ll expose the picture – all of these issues.

Take into consideration what you’re doing, what you’re making an attempt to speak, and why you’re making the picture.

Take your shot, consider it, contemplate what would possibly make it higher, and shoot it once more.

Then repeat! There’s no hurry. You’re making images, not taking snapshots. You are the grasp if you apply black and white nonetheless life pictures.

And that, as they are saying, is the great thing about it. Go make some nice pictures!

As all the time, go away your feedback, questions, and pictures within the feedback part beneath. Greatest needs!

water droplets on a plant
This was shot outside after the early morning dew beaded up on this lupine leaf. I put a bit of black cardboard behind the leaf, then did some additional clean-up within the edit.

The submit Black and White Nonetheless Life Images: Tips on how to Do It (And Why It Issues) appeared first on Digital Images Faculty. It was authored by Rick Ohnsman.

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