Help with Black & Whites


TPF Noob!
Sep 9, 2010
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Southern California
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I love black and white shots but I dont have an eye for them. I have only done a few B&W shots myself and I cant help but feel they don't look right. I will see other peoples B&W shots and think "wow, that is a great shot" but I don't have the eye for it. Is there anything specific to look for or recognize that would make a good B&W shot? Here are 3 shots (maybe the only ones) that I converted to B&W. Good, bad, indifferent?? Thanks.


yea i hear what your saying, i think alot of it is how they edit them. a well edited crappy idea for b&w could look better than a crappy edited great idea, I dont do many b&w for the same reason as you mentioned and also i can never edit them well enough to make tyhem look cool. On yours i think 1 looks cool, but not so much on the other 2. The 2nd doesnt look good with that way overexposed spot, ive noticed overexposed areas really stand out in b&w, and the 3rd just looks like a snapshot to me, so nothing really special to stand out. But take all i say with a grain of salt, just thoughts.
If you're not sure, just put a B&W layer mask on the pictures and see what it looks like. If you don't like it, take it off.
Some subjects are more amenable to the B&W treatment than are others, so one of the tricks is the ability to image a full color scene as a B&W. That takes practice and experience.

Second is making sure you nail the exposure, with digital cameras mainly to minimise noise and protect the highlights.

Third is using good techniques and software for converting the color image to B&W.

The main goals of a B&W image are pleasing contrast, and detail in both the subject shadows and highlights.

I suggest studying The Zone System:
Zone System - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
black&white has certain strengths and weaknesses that make it unique. simply converting an image isn't necessarily going to make it a good b&w. you have to play to it's strengths, just like with color. do you shoot a landscape during the golden hour with rich warm tones in b&w? no, probably not.

good b&w has contrast, texture.

it would also be helpful to study artists who worked with b&w, for example richard avedon, irving penn, harry callahan, edward weston, sebastian salgado.

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