You’ve probably heard that you should always start with a color image when you’re converting to black and white. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t shoot in black and white and still edit the full color image. The advantage to shooting in black and white is that you can visualize your images in black and white while you’re shooting. Great black and white images are all about line, shape and texture. Color is only a distraction. The famous New York photographer Jay Maisel said it took him two years to start seeing in color when color film became available. This tells you that you should think in a completely different mode when you’re shooting for black and white. A great black and white image is not just a color image with the color removed. All digital cameras have an option to shoot in black and white. Canon calls it picture styles, Nikon has picture control, and Fujifilm cameras use Fujifilm simulations. The other camera manufacturers have their own names for it, but they all allow you to see the jpg preview on your camera’s LCD in black and white. If you’re shooting in RAW, you’ll still capture the full RAW data, including color. If you have a camera with an electronic viewfinder, you’ll even see the world in black and white before you push the shutter!
Next time you’re in a situation where you think it may make a great black and white image, switch your camera into monochrome mode and start visualizing in black and white.
Chris Smith is the founder of Out of Chicago Photography. Out of Chicago runs boutique photography conferences for passionate photographers in amazing locations. Go to outofchicago.com/ebooks for your free download of Chris’s latest book; Ten Projects to Spark Your Photographic Creativity. http://outofchicago.com/