Tips for Shooting on Black and White Film

old, film cameraHow Is It Different?

Shooting on Black and White film is very different from when you use color. The most importance difference is that you have to be very careful when deciding what exactly you want to capture. Is it going to look good in black and white? In a way, it is as if you are forced to hone your photography skills much faster than you would with colored film.

How Different Is It?

Dynamic Range

Look at the black and white pictures after they have been developed, you will realize that their dynamic range is nowhere near what you are used to achieve with color films! If you do not adjust accordingly, even shots of a landscape may not come out properly! Do not worry, though, you can use this to your advantage. Exposing a photo correctly – with light in the right places – is as important as knowing how the film will react to the light.

Keep an Eye on the Eyes

Portraits with intense, piercing eyes affect us in a way that others do not. Why do you think that is? Some sparkling orbs are the result of bleaching which lightens them up. However, you can achieve this effect in more than one way:
-Through dodging – darkroom or via photo editing software
-Using a reflector

Tweaking What You Have

For different tones in the picture, you used to need a conversion technique. That is not the case anymore. Software like Lightroom and Photoshop now make life much easier for us photographers. Try being selective about the colors of different areas in your image. As you keep testing, you will find the combo that makes it easier to separate them from the surroundings during conversion.

On the Ground

Areas with similar tones might need some help in differentiation. You can achieve this goal by ensuring a good composition for the image. Including a strong foreground interest, such as walls and trees with well-defined shapes will be easier to discern, even if they seem similar to the rest of the image.

Focus on the Contrast

Landscape images fare better, if you enhance the contrast. In today’s digital age, you can enhance it in several ways:
-Apply an S-curve in the editing package
-Midtone contrast enhances a monochrome landscape image. Add it with RAW conversion software having a Clarity slider.

Ditch Colorful Thinking

Since you see in color, it dominates whatever you do. If you keep thinking in colors, there will be a risk of the black and white image not turning out the way you want it to. Not particularly difficult, what makes you an expert at it is practice. Pick up a black and white image and try to visualize what it will look like in color. Do you think you know the difference between light when indoors as opposed to when you are outdoors? Think again! Everything looks different – shadows, forms, textures, shapes and time of day, along with indoors or outdoors – in black and white.

For an interesting list of films to shoot with before they are discontinued, click here or this will take you to other articles on photography. Liked the article? Leave a comment to let us know or tell us what topic you want us to write about next!

Comments are closed.