I have become increasingly interested in black and white images. When colour is stripped away, it leaves a true character of an animal.
Black and white images let me show wildlife in an artistic, different way. I really like photography by David Yarrow, David Lloyd, James Warwick and the way they use light and shadows, lines and shapes to show an animal or nature scene. Black and white landscapes by Ansel Adams and architecture by Julia Anna Gospodarou are wonderful.
Black and white photography works very well with portraits. In addition to black and white, I love adding a dash of colour for specific areas for more artistic, authentic look.
By combining these elements I try to create a memorable image.
How to photogrpah
Not all images look good in black and white. It is important to look for the subject or scene that looks better in black and white than in colour. If an image does not have interesting light, contrasts, interesting textures or lines it could be quite a challenge to create a good black and white. The best moment to capture an image that will cover a large tonal distribution after converting it to black and white, is when there is not too many contrasts in the scene. It could be a cloudy day, or semi-cloudy, when the sun is showing through the clouds.
I always shoot in RAW and convert images to black and white in Photoshop later.
How to convert to Black and White
There are lots of ways how to convert image to black and white. It could be done by using plug-ins, playing with the channels, by changing Saturation bar, or by using the 'Black and White' adjustment.
Desaturating and converting images to Greyscale are the worst methods which give a flat and washed out looking image; the entire photo is transferred to middle grey.
Channel mixer is a good way to change image to black and white. By ticking the box “Monochrome” in the channel mixer dialog box and adjusting sliders labelled Red, Green and Blue quite good results can be achieved. Black and White adjustment layer gives the same controls as the Channel mixer and also gives an option of presets, and allows to add a tint to an image.
My favourite method is to use NIK Silver Efex Pro plug-in as a starting point. NIK provides 29 presets and gives ideas how the image can be transformed. Then I use a mix of filters by using masks and selections to hide or reveal certain areas of the image. For final touches, I use Curves or Levels, Dodge and Burn.