Old elephant in Tanzania (Shutterstock: see credit below)
Article 10 June

Photography tips: How to take great black and white shots

Sjoerd Spendel and Lennart de Jong took one black and white photograph every day for three years. Here they give their tips

1. Use the right light

Many photographs are over-exposed, especially in hot places where the harsh sun will cause problems. Take black and white photos in the morning or evening for the best light.

2. Don’t limit your options

Work in colour and edit the images on your computer later: taking a photo using the ‘black and white’ camera setting reduces the range and detail of the image – in short, a less data-rich image. Keep your options open.

Brooklyn bridge (Shutterstock)
Brooklyn bridge (Shutterstock)

3. Know your camera

No one camera is better than another for black and white photography – the best images are taken by those who know their cameras inside out. Invest time in your camera; understand how it works. Try all the settings and don’t be afraid of the menu.

4. Dark stops

Lighting is key in black and white photography to differentiate colour and objects. It’s easier to make a photograph lighter in post-production than darker so take black and white images 1/3 or 2/3 of a stop darker than normal; doing this will give you access to a far bigger range of shades.

5. Interact with people

Black and white is a fantastic medium for street and portrait photography – it brings out characterful detail to surprising and atmospheric effect. When taking shots of people, get close, and interact on a personal level. The image will be more interesting and intimate. Most of the time, people are thrilled to be photographed – you might end up making a new friend.

HASHTAG365 by Sjoerd Spendel and Lennart de Jong is out now (Clearview Books, £25), available in shops and from Amazon


Main image: Old elephant in Tanzania (Shutterstock)