Black and white photos: how, when and why. When it is convenient to use black and white over color

So… Black and white photos: how, when and why… There are basically three reasons why I suggest using black and white photos over classic color photos. The first is the enhancement of the texture or, as they say in the jargon, the texture. When you want to enhance the texture of a surface, whether it be that of a piece of clothing for example or a naturalistic subject, black and white will be able to enhance it by attracting the viewer’s eye. And do you know why (second reason)? Because black and white is less “distracting” than colors especially when, on the subject in question, or worse still around it, there are too many colors. How to do it (third reason)? Using the key element of black and white photos, contrast, which with its mixture of whites and blacks, light and dark, maybe makes you lose something in the outlines but gives the photos a lot of depth and drama.

Black and White vs Monochrome

There are two terms that refer to the “same” thing: black and white (black and white) and monochrome. Monochromatic means “of a single color”. So, monochrome photos can have a color cast, assuming it’s just one color. They usually have a hue, to enhance the character, but all other colors have been removed. True black and white is no color except black, gray and white.

What is Monochrome Photography?
Monocrome photo

Black and white photo cameras

First, it’s important to remember that there are some cameras that only take black and white photos. They tend to be high-end and expensive, like the Leica M Monochrome, which retails for $ 8,000. While you’ll occasionally find people tweaking regular cameras to shoot in black and white only, that process is expensive and difficult to perform, so it is not common to see. If you are on a much lower budget then I recommend you to use the Sigma Sigma Body Reflex Digital SD1 Merrill. It costs just over $ 1000 and does its monochrome job admirably thanks to its 46MP Foveon X3 image sensor with dual TRUE II image processing engines.

Sigma Sigma Corpo Reflex Digitale SD1 Merrill, attacco Sigma :  Elettronica
Sigma Body Reflex Digital SD1 Merrill

Photographing in b / w or converting a color photo to b / w?

We know that monochrome-only cameras offer sharper and cleaner black and white images than a color camera, so they would be preferred for this type of particular shot. But 99% of people don’t do that. In fact, most people use cameras with a black and white mode. What is better then? Is it better to take color photos and convert them in post-processing, or use the monochrome mode? From experience I have to say that, especially for beginners, you should always take color photos first and then convert them to black and white in post-production if only for the possibility of going back. But there is more. With a photo originally taken in color, it will be possible to adjust the “colors” in post-production by darkening or lightening particular shades based on the effect we want to achieve.

Black and white photos that made history

About the power of black and white. Just to “remind you” I have brought you here some photos that have made the history of photography, already born in black and white. In reality I have no intention of reminding anyone because you already know them very well. What I want to ask you instead is a different question which is the following: in your opinion, if these photos were taken today with modern color cameras, or if they were taken as a frame of a video, they would have the same power, wouldn’t they? Spoiler alert, in my opinion NO!

File:Portrait of young Marilyn Monroe, black and white.jpg - Wikimedia  Commons
The Kissing Sailor Photograph: An Iconic Image of War, Not Romance -  Sociological Images
Foto e storia di Albert Einstein, 1951 - Marco Crupi