Tips for Black and White Photography

You might be one of those photographers who decide to convert a photo
to black and white in post production. Trying if it ‘works’ for a photo
you took without thinking about black and white at the time. Nothing
wrong with that, but have you ever tried to go out and shoot
specifically with a black and white photo in mind? It’s worth doing so
and I’d like to give you some tips for when you do.

Shoot in Color

Most camera’s have a black and white preset that lets you take photos
directly in black and white. Don’t use it. This might sound a bit
weird, but you can better shoot your black and white images in color. A
good black and white image will require post processing and the standard
in-camera black and white conversion isn’t have as good as your own
black and white conversion.
There is an exception to this rule; if you shoot in your cameras RAW format,
you can use the black and white preset on your camera. When your
shooting in RAW, your camera shows you its poor black and white
conversion on your display, but the color information is still
available. If your camera supports a RAW format, I’d recommend on using
it. It will give you more control over the end result. The black and
white preview on your camera display can help you to get a idea of how a
black and white version might look.
Keeping control over the black and white conversion

Shoot at Your Lowest ISO Setting

I know the grainy film look is popular in black and white
photography, but I’d recommend on using the lowest possible ISO setting
when taking your shots. Just like the black and white conversion itself,
the grainy look is best added in post production. In the fill days
photographers often used high ISO films to get the grainy look. Shooting
in high ISO will give you enough noise, but the digital noise isn’t as
sweet as the analog. 
Be careful not to get unwanted movement in your shots when going for
the lowest ISO setting. With modern cameras you can go up quite a lot
before the noise kicks in. It’s better to get a sharp shot with some
noise instead of a noiseless shot where your subject is a blur.
Grain added in post

Shoot on Those Gray Gays

You know those dull gray winter days when you feel like staying in
bed for the day? Pick up your camera and go for a black and white shoot!
Those grey days are perfect for black and white photography. The soft
light will give you silky smooth transitions in your subjects. And, when
needed, you can always add some extra contrast in post.

Learn to See Black and White

The world looks differently in black and white. When you learn to
‘see’ in black and white you’ll easily pick out the situations that are
perfect for black and white photography. Try to envision how a shot will
look in black and white before you take the shot. Seeing black and
white requires practice. It isn’t too easy, but there are several things
that may help you.

Differences in color versus black and white
Look for shapes. Shapes cast shadows that bring out the shape of a
subject. If the light you use is hard, the shadows will show it.
Beautiful shapes might disappear in an abundance of color. Black and
white helps you to bring out the shape again.
With the absence of color, structure becomes more important. Use (or
create) the light to bring out the structure. Structure can be found in
many subjects, like hair, sand, skin or wood.
Too much contrast in a color photo often results in harsh and
confusing images. Remove the color and harsh contrast becomes a great
way to attract attention to your subject. 
Showing structure