Magical Mono

Monochrome photography, also known as black and white photography, is an art form used to capture the world around us. The art of creating a monochrome photograph goes beyond capturing an image in black-and-white, the lack of colour demands that a scene be interpreted using other forms, such as texture, shape and contrast. 

To create a good monochrome photograph, the photographer could focus on the following aspects:

  • Contrast: Contrast is key to any image, but far more important in monochrome. Deep blacks and strong highlights can be used to offer a mood to an image.  Think back to the stunning film noir of the 1930’s and 40’s
  • Patterns: Patterns provide your images with character and highly interesting points of focus for your viewers. Without colour to provide focal points of interest, patterns can make your picture.
  • HDR: HDR is an extremely under-appreciated approach to monochrome pictures. That’s a pity.  HDR offers strong contrast and can help put fine detail into your monochrome image.  You can apply this while editing your image or at the time of taking, phones and cameras have HDR options.
  • Lighting: Lighting is one of the most important aspects of photography. In monochrome photography, even more so. You can light your subject with a table lamp or natural light through a window for instance) to create interesting contrast.
  • Composition: It is important to consider the placement of the subject, the use of lines, and the balance of the photograph. The use of negative space can also create a dramatic effect in your image. There have been other articles on composition and more to come.
  • Tonal range: Tonal range refers to the range of tones from black to white in a photograph. A good monochrome photograph should have a wide tonal range to create depth and interest.  Or you could break the rules and use high contrast to create the image.
  • Subject matter: The subject matter of a photograph is always important in creating a good photograph. More so in monochrome.  The subject should be interesting and evoke an emotional response from the viewer. 

What are your thoughts on Black And White Photography?  Feel free to get in touch with us at Great Barr Photography Society.  And if you do shoot some pictures, on film or digital, please let us see them!  

I wrote this article for the Great Barr Gazette as part of a regular feature to help promote Great Barr Photographic Society