How to Choose: Black and White or Color

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Duration: 7:12

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When you capture your outdoor images, do you sometimes think of shooting in black and white? But when you get into post processing, shooting in black and white doesn’t quite work out. In this premium video lesson, nature photographer David Johnston helps you make that choice.

For this shooting in black and white tutorial, you will learn how to read gray tones when photographing in the field. David shows you a wide angle image of gray elephants grazing in a field of green grasses. Since grasses tend to turn gray in black and white, there would be little contrast between the green grass and the gray elephants in a monochrome image. But if you process the color image in Lightroom, play around with the contrast, clarity, highlights, shadows, blue and green tones, you can create separation between the elephants and the green background. Now when you convert to monochrome, the final image looks like you were shooting in black and white but yet you find the main subjects still blend too much.

The goal of shooting in black and white is to recognize gray tones in order to create separation or contrast. David brings into Lightroom a color image of a field of zebras grazing in Kenya under a bright cloudy sky. Clearly with this image, you would think about shooting in black and white, the gray tones, the bright highlights, dark shadows, and black and white zebras. You will learn the process of creating enough contrast. David lowers the exposure, then increases the contrast between highlights and shadows and whites and blacks. Using the graduated filter, he further increases the contrast to create the dramatic separation in the gray tones. The result is a high contrast black and white image of zebras against a dark sky.

Join Outdoor Photography Guide’s professional nature photographer David Johnston for a lesson on shooting in black and white. You will achieve some striking images.