High Contrast Black & White Photography Tricks

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    Raw Format

    • In digital photography, a raw photograph occurs when the data is unprocessed and uncompressed in the camera until a photographer uses a computer program to make changes to the photo. This file format is ideal for black and white photography as the photographer possesses more control of the appearance of the image and is able to play with the various shades of black, white and grey to create a high contrast photo. Use this file format whenever you need a high contrast black and white photo.

    Natural Contrast

    • The human eye can naturally see areas of contrast, as this is how you distinguish one object from another. To achieve high contrasting black and white photos, find scenes and settings with natural and distinct light intensity and color contrast, such as backgrounds with dark shadows and bright lights. Use this contrast to draw the viewer’s eye to the most important element of the photograph. Use different lighting angles to achieve contrast, such as side lighting, which creates long shadows.

    Textures and Patterns

    • Textures and patterns are both forms of contrast that use various intensities of highlights and regular or irregular patterns to add complexity to a photo. Monochrome photos typically bring out subtle textures and patterned contrasts more than color photos. An ideal way to add contrast to a photo is to focus on rich patterns and textures such as detailed scenery.


    • An important tip for creating high contrasting black and white photos is to practice as much as you can. A successful black and white photographer trains his mind to be able to see the world in black and white and focus on the contrasting tones of a scene or setting. These photographers can identify subjects, backgrounds or settings that would make an ideal high contrasting monochrome photo. This skill comes with much practice and much experimenting with black and white photography. An ideal way to practice is to shoot in only black and white for one month. This will help a photographer see potential black and white compositions all around him.

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