Photography Quick Tip 11 – Converting to Black and White

Have you ever thought of converting your colour photographs to black and white?

You have probably taken many pictures that would look stunning. When you’re going through your colour images, look for ones with a wide tonal range.  That means there will be lots of darks, (which convert to black,) and bright lights, (which convert to whites,) and everything in between.  I took this photo of a mime in Piazza Navona in Rome and it’s bright and colourful. However, I really like the way the mime stands out in black and white.

the textures of the mime's makeup and crinkles in his costume draws your attention to the him

Look at the tonal range below.  One end has the whitest of whites and the other the blackest blacks.  When you’re looking at your photographs you will see darks and lights and the mid-tones which will convert to various shades of gray.  Sometimes squinting when you look at a photo will help you see the gradations.An image that has mostly mid-tones will produce a flat, uninteresting black and white. This gerbera picture has lovely shades of pink but the tones fall in the middle of the gray scale. Notice how the image looks washed out once it’s converted?  It’s because it does not have a wide enough tonal range to make the elements stand out.

this black and white conversion is flat and dull because there was not a significant number of darks and lights in the original photograph

Black and white photos look elegant in a white mat with a black frame.  They also make beautiful greeting cards and posters.  My sister loves to decorate her home and recently matted and framed one of my water lily shots for her powder room.

a crisp white mat and black metal frame gave this image a sophisticated look

It’s fun to shoot close-ups or crop images for almost abstract effects.

I took this shot of my daughter's old yellow bike. I like the way it looks in b&w.

the lines and shapes draw your eye in to the image

Sometimes I use photo-editing software to add an extra dimension to my images.  This arrangement of tulips take on a poster-like look with a slight illustration effect.

a bright new way to look at the beauty of spring

There are many software programs that you can use to convert your pictures from colour to black and white.  Give it a try.  I think you’ll be delighted with the results.

More of my images can be seen atArt Prints
If you’re interested in joining Fine Art America, check it out at the link belowArtist Websites
All photographs copyright © Marion McCristall

4 thoughts on “Photography Quick Tip 11 – Converting to Black and White

  1. Pingback: Photography Quick Tip 11 – Converting to Black and White (via Everything Neat) | Alkeane's Blog

  2. Thanks for your tips. I’m going to try taking photos in black and white this weekend 😀 It will make my pictures less boring and more interesting 😀

    • Thank you for your comment. Have fun this weekend taking pictures. When you are specifically interested in converting your photos to black and white, choose scenes with a broad tonal range. Take your pictures in colour and make the conversion later with photo editing software.
      Good luck,

  3. Thank you for the tips. I love the dramatic and classic effect that black and white photos exude. It’s great to finally have an idea in selecting which photos would best stand out when tweaked in black and white.

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