Mellow monochrome: making the best of black & white photography

Eyecatching, compelling and thoughtful are but a few of the adjectives that come to mind when talking about great black and white photography. From action shots through to portraits and still life, in this article, we’ll consider the qualities that make an outstanding monochrome image and how you can make your own shots better.

Mellow monochrome

Image Credit

It’s all about the light

At the end of the day, all photography is nothing more than a trick of the light; capturing a moment in time by manipulating black and white, light and shadow, darkness and illumination, using the tools of our trade.

Just as with any form of art, there is no such thing as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in photography – only ‘different’. Through understanding and using various methods of controlling and manipulating light, you will be able to affect not only the mood of your image but also the impact and effect that it has on those who view it.

Continuous Lighting

With the advent of modern fluorescent and LED light sources, continuous lighting is the closest you can get to natural light indoors.

By using clean, pure white light, these sources allow you to control direction and power, creating soft natural lighting and intense shadows. Many professional photographers such as Bournemouth wedding photographer now prefer continuous light sources to flash as the perfect choice for creating artistic portraits and romantic shots.

Adding depth and drama

Photography is about light. However, sometimes the absence of light can be as crucial as the presence of it. Australian photographer Bill Henson is a master at using dark and shadow to achieve impact in his images. It’s a tough art to master and it takes practice, but as you can see from his site, it genuinely is worth taking the time and it can revolutionise your monochrome photography.

Multi-Directional Lighting

Setting up as many as four or five different light sources around your subject can create a stunning, advertisement style image, virtually eliminating shadow and seeming to create an almost wrap-around lighting effect. To use this technique effectively, ensure that the light sources surround the visible area of the subject so that all shadows soften equally. Also make sure that you begin with the maximum amount of light, slowly reducing it to achieve the effect you desire.