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Home > Be different! How B/W Photography can capture your Senses

In these times of Instagram and Facebook there are billions of photos being taken and posted online every day.

Be different! How B/W Photography can capture your Senses

Snapshots with oversaturated colour filters are very common in these types of photos, as we are drawn to bright colours like a moth to a flame. HDR is on the rise, which uses several exposures to give larger-than-life colour ranges, and picturesque images captured with this technique litter the internet to the point of their being mundane.

But is colour really the be-all and end-all of photography? There is a large portion of the photography community that thinks not. Many classic works from renowned photographers are without colour: striking landscapes, enigmatic portraits and evocative still lifes – all in black and white.

So why should you start exploring the dramatic world of black and white photography?


To capture an atmospheric contrast, black and white is wonderful. If you are a beginner, it’s also easier for an untrained eye to appreciate the striking textures and tones of black and white imagery than with the complexity of a colour mesh. Teach your eyes to avoid stark colours, and focus only on the pure contrast between light and dark.


Without colour you simplify the image you are trying to capture. This lets you focus on the essence of what you want to show through your photos, and can often make a picture even more powerful.

While learning the essentials of exposure, working with black and white photography is a great way to remove any distractions, to make sure you get it right – perfect for any homework if you are taking a beginner’s photography course.


A black and white photo is different from how we see the world. We have grown up with seeing our surroundings with the nuance that colour gives us, and showing the same surroundings without colour can make the subject look very different. We recognise what’s being pictured, but without the warmth of colour it deviates from the original scene in a way that grabs the viewer’s attention. Our eyes get drawn further and further into the picture as the brain tries to fill in the blanks.


If you are doing still-life photography, using black and white will instantly give your objects a sense of timelessness. We all associate black and white with something from a time long past, and this can be used to your advantage. Want that abandoned wagon wheel to instantly be recognised as something from early last century? Picture it in monochrome.


When removing the distraction of colour, texture becomes an integral part of your subject. Bring it out for your viewers with dramatic lighting and high contrast. The texture of waves, grassy fields or even a person’s skin all become more accentuated when you remove colour. Make a grizzled face, with wrinkles and all, really jump from the page by utilising black and white photography.

Photo: Holger Pooten

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