How to See in Black and White for Street Photography

We hear it all the time, but what does it really mean to see in black in white? How exactly do you do this? This quick video holds the answers.

Black and white photography involves a totally different mindset when it comes to shooting, and a different way of seeing things before you even press the shutter. But what exactly are these about? How do you train your eye to hunt for the right scenes that will look best in monochrome? What makes a good black and white image? With some tips and insights from today’s featured video, you’ll be able to gain some insight about these questions for your next black and white shoot.

The video below, from Ibarionex Perello of The Candid Frame, answers these questions by discussing how to evaluate a scene with the intention of shooting in black and white. It also comes with three images that provide the best examples of effective black and white photography. If you’re new to the craft, we’re sure you’ll get a lot of great pointers from this video.

Creating interesting monochrome images isn’t just about having a really good process for converting from color to black and white. There is actually a lot more to excellent black and white photography than that. For example, it’s primarily about the use of contrast between light and dark. This entails demonstrating a range of tones to highlight shapes, lines, and patterns to tell a visual story.

One advantage of shooting with a digital camera that has a black and white mode is you immediately see what a scene will look like in monochrome. That can help you choose what to capture and how to frame your shot. But, if you’re shooting with something that doesn’t have that ability (say, a film camera) you have to make judgments based on what you see, which naturally is in color. The key to this is paying attention to the tones and contrast and how they make your subject stand out.

One way to approach contrast is to use it to draw the eyes of the viewer to the subject of your photo. Bright elements in a mostly dark image, for example, tend to catch the attention of the viewer first. But, the same applies when a predominantly white scene is suddenly broken by a dark element, as with the case of silhouettes.

In the absence of the distractions of color, you really have to pay more attention to the patterns, shapes, and lines of the scene you photograph. Whether you capture scenes through your camera’s monochrome mode or decide to convert a color image, these elements will be more emphasized in black and white.

Don’t forget to check out The Candid Frame channel on YouTube for more insightful photography videos like this.


Screenshot image from the video