5 Black and White Photography Tips

Mastering black and white is to photography what conquering Everest is to mountaineering. It takes a special set of skills as well as hours and hours of practice to get it right.

In a world awash with color, black and white photography creates searing images that stand out for their stark beauty. By taking away color’s capacity to distract the eye, you capture the rawness of form and the drama of light and shade. If you’ve ever visited a photo exhibit at an art gallery or followed the work of famous photographers, you know that black and white snapshots have an inexplicable power to stir the soul.

While practice is the only road to perfection when it comes to black and white photography, there are a few things you can do to improve the quality of your creations:

1. Pick out shapes, lines and textures

Learn to seek out objects with interesting shapes, patterns with definite lines or texturally rich subjects. Unlike in color photography, these are the details that dominate black and white pictures. Without a strong form in focus, a black and white photograph turns out flat and uninteresting. Contrasts add interest, so you should aim to capture areas of sharp black, vivid white and myriad shades of gray in between.

2. Get the light right

Light is what defines black and white photography. Not just ambient light at the time of clicking the shot but also the interplay of brightness and shade within the composition. The so-called golden hours of photography – the soft light of sunup and sundown – are the best times to shoot outdoors. The softness of light in those hours draws out details better. Overcast days are also great for taking black and white pictures. When shooting still life, using side lights to create more dramatic pockets of brightness and shade create greater definition.

3. Shoot in RAW format

If your device offers the option, try shooting in the RAW format. This gives you greater control over the outcome in the editing phase. Some cameras allow you to click in the RAW and JPEG formats at the same time. Use the option and select the monochrome setting to know what the image will look like in black and white. This is especially helpful when you’re starting out and find it hard to visualize in black and white. If you can’t shoot in RAW, try clicking in color and then changing it to a black and white image.

4. Manipulate ISO and exposure

Tweaking your camera’s ISO setting can make all the difference. Low ISO, especially in good light conditions, eliminates the appearance of noise in the image. Unwanted noise can interfere with the quality of both color as well as black and white pictures. But it is more noticeable in the latter. When shooting scenes with a bit of movement, setting long exposure creates interesting blurs that contrast beautifully with the dominant subject in the image.

5. Use filters

Filters allow you to exercise greater control over light and contrast. Polarizers are helpful when shooting around reflective surfaces like water. A split neutral density filter is useful in creating more dramatic contrasts in very bright conditions.

Keeping these basics in mind, the more you experiment with black and white photography, the better you will get at manipulating the final image and getting the desired result. The holy grail of photography is definitely attainable.

5 Ways to Improve Your Instagram Photos

Like anything else in life, making your Instagram photos stand out in a crowd of millions of posts needs a little extra something. After all, your Instagram post is like a work of art. Anyone can sketch a few lines on paper in a matter of seconds and send it out into the world. But artwork that is memorable involves a little more thought towards composition, a little more effort to attain perfection. That’s the difference between the ordinary and the exceptional.

Devoting just a few more minutes to your Instagram contributions can vastly improve their quality. Here are five easy ways to make your Instagram photography and posts a whole lot better:

1. Planning

Yes, many Instagram captures are impulsive, spur of the moment captures. But most can be planned. Think square. Compose with care. Gauge the best time of day with ideal light for your subject. There’s a little bit of trial and error involved. The more you experiment, the better you will get at it. Study the posts of Instagram members you follow and admire. Why do they appeal to you? You remember them because they stand out for their artistic composition, their clever use of color and contrast. That’s a product of planning.

2. Camera selection

While smart phone cameras and the Instagram app have come a long way, the best photography is still the product of a real camera. Use one when you can and transfer your work to your mobile device. Here’s the quality succession for photography: camera trumps smart phone; smart phone trumps Instagram app. Most new digital cameras offer seamless upload options, so transferring photographs takes just a few seconds.

3. Taking multiple shots

Not every picture we click has that magical, evocative quality, despite what we might like to believe. So take multiple shots. Subtly vary the angle, the light and the composition. See what works better and post only the best capture. Weeding out the ordinary to showcase the extraordinary is something we subconsciously do in every other aspect of life. So why not in the world of Instagram?

4. Editing

This is a vital quality control step that no creative genius ever skips. Make it an integral part of your life on Instagram. There are many apps out there outside of Instagram that help you enhance and polish the appearance of your snapshots. From VSCO Cam to Afterlight, Photoshop to Lightroom, Filterstorm to Mextures, there is a host of editing options out there. Efficiency in this department can only come from experimentation and navigating all the options that these editing applications offer.

5. Keeping fun at the heart of it

While it’s important to keep these technical pointers in mind to get the best out of your Instagram experience, you shouldn’t forget to have fun with your posts. If you’re not excited about what you’re photographing, your creations will be dull and forgettable. Your enthusiasm for the subject adds an intangible but essential quality to your posts, so seek out what brings you joy.

Clearly, improving your Instagram photos doesn’t take very much. If you make these simple steps a regular part of your Instagram regimen, contributing high-quality and memorable posts will soon become second nature.

5 Tips For Better Photography

As a retired former wedding photographer I can tell you that I see some very common mistakes from inexperienced photographers all the time. Most of the time they seem to center around these five tips I want to give you today. They may seem like common sense to many of you, and for the most part they are. But these are by far, the five things that make otherwise good photographs seem amateurish at best and sometimes even downright worthless.

These five tips have always seemed very important to me.

1. Framing Your Subject

First, when shooting a picture find the center of the shot you want. Then look at your scene would it be better just slightly off center, or better centered. Use the viewfinder of your camera to frame a shot. It can be done just as well from a view screen on a digital camera. but look at the image, before you shoot. Are you too far away for a good shot, if so move closer. Too close, back-up, zoom if necessary. Learn how to cut off people’s bodies and where to cut them. Such as at the neck the waist the hips, the knees. You can even cut off the top of someone’s head if you do it right. You can still obtain a good picture. Look at what you are shooting, and compose. Framing a picture properly can make or break a picture’s appeal.

2. Steady Your Camera

I often see shots taken where the person holding the camera was either swinging around in a circle at the time he was pressing the shutter button. What you get is a blur. Often it is colorful, and an image like this could be artistic. But if you want a picture of what you are shooting to be recognizable to the viewer, hold the camera and yourself still. Use a camera strap to steady the camera against your own neck if necessary, use a tripod, brace yourself against a solid object. Whatever is necessary to stop camera shake and movement. take a breath just before shooting, release your breath just before you press the shutter button, and then shoot when the air is expelled from your lungs. Shoot a camera as you would a gun. Steady on target. Aim using the viewfinder or screen, frame well and steady as she goes.

3. Watch Your Lighting

Be aware of your light source. Subdued lighting is usually better for someone less skilled with a camera. A bright sunny day under a shade tree is usually better than dead on sunlight. In your subjects face sunlight will cause the squints. You know when their eyes become slits to keep the sun from frying their retinas. Off to the side some is better.

Beware of shadows cast by the light you’re using. Angle light so as to eliminate shadows where you don’t want them. When shooting indoors be aware of color cast by the light you are using. Incandescent lamps add a decidedly yellowish tint. Florescents add a blueish or greenish tint. This isn’t so noticable with digital cameras, and many cameras have a setting especially for the type of light you’re using. Again even indoors beware of light too strong for your settings on your camera, or shadown. Something else to be aware of which goes along with lighting, but also applies to framing your shot.. Watch out for intruders. Artifacts that often seem to look like a tree growing out of the top of someone’s head. Or streetlights. that look like a UFO landing on your friends head.

4. Focus, Focus,Focus.

Even today’s auto everything, point and shoot cameras often shoot out of focus pictures. They don’t always apply the point of focus where you are wanting to focus. Check you shot before you shoot. Is the image sharply focused. If not, Why? Is it possible your finger may be blocking the electric eye on your camera that focuses, is it too dark for it to work, is there some other obstruction that may be catching the focus of your camera that is closer or farther away than your intended subject. Again check your shot prior to pressing the shutter button.

5. Don’t Show Your Bad Shots To Anyone

I know this sounds a little silly, but it really isn’t. You must realize that everyone, everyone, including experienced professionals shoot bad shots. They just don’t show those. It adds to your credibility if you only allow people to see your best work. Edit your photos with a critical eye.

Don’t expect everyone to agree with your vision. Art is subjective. But, that is what you want to strive for, art. Pictures that are visually stunning. Those shots that capture your eye and hold it are the bomb. Those are the shots you want people to see. Those are the shots people want to see. Those are the moneymakers.