5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge – Day 1& Monochrome Photography Tips

I was nominated by George Lim Photography to participate in the 5 Day Black and White Challenge.  For 5 days I have to post one monochrome image each day while challenging another photographer to do the same.  This is Day 1 and I’m nominating Sean Dick of Evoke Studio.

Monochrome photos pose a challenge in themselves.  Being devoid of colour, you’re left with only variances in light to convey your message.


Black and White Photography Tips

Here are some tips when applying a black and white treatment.

Use composition to lead the eye

This applies to both colour and monochrome photography.  Leading the eye to parts of the image helps capture the attention of the viewer.  In black and white photography, you’re unable to use bright colours to lead the viewer.  Fall back to using interesting shapes, tones, textures and leading lines to enhance the composition.  In the image below, I placed the subject a third in from the right of the image (rule of thirds), and used the metal beams running from the bottom right to the subject to lead the eye into image.

Pay attention to the quality of light

They say that light makes a photograph.  This is more so with a black and white image.  Dark areas form the black parts of the image, and bright areas conversely form the lighter/whiter parts of the image.  Look for interesting variances in light.  Soft light adds a calming quality to the image, whereas harsh/strong light creates a more edgy look.

Use contrast to make subjects pop

Contrasting areas in an image can draw the viewer’s attention.  On the other hand, less contrasting areas (e.g. a uniform area of grey) are happy to just sit back and blend into the unnoticed.  In the image below, the bright spot from the welding gun naturally draws the viewer’s eye towards it.  The weld gun is starkly contrasted with the man holding it.  The dichotomy between light and dark around the welder makes this a very strong image.



A welder in Hanoi uses his hands as a screen. By Zhi Lee
A welder in Hanoi uses his hands as a screen. By Zhi Lee
  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D
  • Focal length: 105mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s

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Zhi Lee

Award winning NZ wedding, travel and portrait photographer. Creating images for the enjoyment of others really gets me going. It is through photography that I get to connect with people and express a little bit of creativity.

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