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Photography Lesson: Black + White {+ 4 inspiring images}

Fat Mum Slim /

Each month I’ve been sharing a little bit of a photography lesson {you can see all the past posts by clicking iPhoneography in the right hand column}, and this month is on the topic of Black + White. If you play photo a day the prompt for today is Black + White so this post will help you achieve a sweet photo, and if you’re not playing photo a day… well this little lesson might just help you with your photography anyway.

Black and white photos, for me, evoke a sense of emotion and depth to a photo – that sometimes colour just can’t portray as well. Having said that, there’s not that much to share on how to achieve a Black + White photograph. For you photo-a-dayers you could simply use a black and white filter and share your photo, or take a photo of something black and white {handy if you’ve got a pet zebra in the backyard} but there are a few tips in how to make your black and white photo the best it can be.

If you’re using a filter, play around with your brightness, and contrast tools too. This can be done in Apps like Camera+ and Afterlight {to name just a few}. This way you’ll be able to work out what looks best with your subject matter, you can brighten the whites, darken the blacks and create more detail in the grays just by playing around with those tools. If you’re using a point and shoot camera or even DSLR, you can edit in and use their black & white effect over your photo.

It’s good to note that details look particularly beautiful when using black and white, and by details I mean like the grain in the wood, wrinkles on an elderly persons skin, and the sweet eyelashes of a baby {but the options are endless!}.


IMG_6429On this particular morning when we went whale watching, it was early morning and it just felt really eerie and magical. Ideally I would have had a zoom and the tail of the whale would be in more detail and closer up, but hopefully you can get the idea of what I was trying to achieve.

Here are four black & white photos to give you some inspiration:

photo credit: sant.o

photo credit: Thomas Leuthard

photo credit: Thomas Geiregger

I'm an Uncle x4!

photo credit: MightyBoyBrian

Do you enjoy taking black and white photos? Feel free to add any tips if you’ve got some to share.

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  • Julie

    If you haven’t played around with HDR (High Dynamic Range), consider it for this prompt. Because you are only working in shades of gray with black and white filters, it’s can make the photo pop that much more to have a wider range of contrast present in the original image. HDR doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a try for this prompt! On the iPhone, all you have to do is tap “HDR On” at the top of the camera screen, and it will save the original image and the HDR to your camera roll, with the latter having a small “HDR” in the upper left corner (only in camera roll, not etched onto the photo). Hope this is helpful!

    • Thanks Julie. x

    • Chronicallysickmanicmother

      I completely agree. I love the HDR mode on my android…. It does make a difference… Sharper and cleaner images.

    • Dara Salas

      Thanks for the tip. Wishing I read this before posting my photo!

  • Terry Beth Tucker Barnhart

    Think about if the color is needed to make the picture. Also if using an app, you might want to change details, like shadows, and sharpen and clarity before making it black and white. Contrasting light and dark helps in the photo and architecture can be great for this.

  • Hmm I shall go get my pet zebra out for the day hey!

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Yes it is a big help ,Thankyou Chantelle x

  • I love Black and White too Chantelle.I am just starting to get into photography, when time permits, so hopefully soon I will have tips to share.

  • Susanne Paulissen

    The two pictures from Thomas are so lovely. Like them!

  • I love black and white pics, I’ve recently started posting them from my travels. Sometimes there are pictures that I think are lovely in color then I change them to black and white and I can’t believe the difference. So I would say play with your pictures, even if you don’t think it would look good because you may be surprised.

  • We’re also a big fan of the VSCO camera app…it has some truly beautiful black & white presets or you can go for manual control. You can check out pics on Instagram with the hashtag #vsco or #vscocam to see what it can do.

    PS. Awesome selection of B&W pics for this post – love it! I always struggle to decide what to put in black & white and what to leave in colour. At the moment, I’m going through a phase with trees or branches in black & white, cropped in nice and tight or contrasted against plain sky to create intricate patterns.