Useful Tools to Include in Your Black and White Photography Arsenal

In the mood for monochrome? These recommended tools should make your black and white photography practice easier, and your results loads better.

Black and white photography is a totally different way of seeing and shooting things. It’s only natural that it comes with its own set of guidelines and tools to help make the most of the medium. If you’re new to the craft and wondering about what you can add to your black and white photography tools of the trade, you might want to take note of some suggestions in this quick video.

Below, Ted Forbes of The Art of Photography YouTube channel gives a rundown of his recommended tools for black and white photography, ranging from the essentials to the nice to the extras. What’s great about these suggestions is they are timeless – Ted put together this video in 2011 and they still pretty much apply to the present. These tools would also be of great help for those who shoot black and white film, so if that sounds like you, pay extra attention!

Light Meter

Sure, you can use one of those light meter apps, and they work okay when you’re in a pinch. However, as noted in the video, nothing will replace a dedicated light meter. This is especially the case when you’re shooting portraits or working in tricky lighting conditions. More advanced (hence, pricier) models will also have other useful features such as flash readings for shooting in the studio. It will also help a lot when shooting film with a vintage camera that doesn’t have a light meter. But, for that purpose, you might want to try using a paper “light meter” or the Sunny 16 Guide Wheel.

Black and White Photography Books

The books recommended by Ted are mostly for black and white film photographers. However, we can imagine how they can be of interest to film + digital and digital photographers as well. As he mentioned in the video, digital photographers will surely learn a thing or two about exposure in black and white, as well as the history behind the timeless techniques by greats in the genre. You can check out used book stores in your area or even look up PDF versions of these books online.

  • The Negative by Ansel Adams
  • An Ansel Adams Guide – Basic Techniques of Photography by John P. Schaeffer
  • Black and White Photography Workshop by John Blakemore

Black and White Films

Some black and white films have come and gone since this video came out, but there are now many options for those who want to give black and white film photography a try. In case you haven’t decided yet or are looking for something new, Ted recommends learning and mastering one or two emulsions first: Kodak Tri-X 400, Ilford HP5, and Ilford Delta 400 would be great starting points.

Don’t forget to check out The Art of Photography on YouTube for more photography tips and tricks like this from Ted Forbes.


Screenshot image from the video