How to Use Color to Improve Your Black and White Photography

It might seem oxymoronic to talk about using color to improve your black and white photography, but understanding this process will take your imagery to new levels.

Before I knew anything about photography or editing, particularly using software such as Photoshop or Lightroom, I always thought black and white simply meant there was no color in an image. I didn't know about or understand the intricacies of highlights, shadows, or midtones or appreciate the importance of using contrast and texture to give more impact to black and white images. Of course, I've come a long way since then and enjoy going out and working with conditions that I know will be conducive to black and white imagery. But how can we use color to improve our black and white photography?

In this great video by Adrian from aows, he introduces you to using the natural colors from your original image to enhance all the important facets of black and white photography. For many beginners, they might simply set their camera to black and white or get into their favorite post-production software and click an auto black and white button. That's all well and good, but you're losing control if you do it that way. In this video, Adrian shows you exactly how to target specific colors of your image to really add contrast and impact. He walks you through a number of examples from his road trip to Norway, and once you see this in action, you'll be far better equipped to improve your own black and white photography.

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Lee Morris's picture

This is why I've argued that cameras that only shoot black and white images are worse than cameras that shoot color and then can be converted to BW.

Iain Stanley's picture

Why would you purposefully limit your options?