The Pro Photographers Guide to Black & White Vs Colour

Setting the tone of an image is arguably, the most important part of any photograph.


As the photographer, this choice can help to define your overall style; making your work instantly recognisable purely by the tone of your chosen medium.

Make Or Break Time!

When deciding to take a photograph, here in this digital age that we all find ourselves in, you have the choice of two “make or break” options available at the moment of pressing the trigger; black & white or colour.

One of the many joys of photography is pondering this very notion in pre and post processing. This never used to be the case around fifteen years ago when it all came down to the film you happened to have loaded in your camera at that particular moment in time. Photographers had to consider the various contrasting colours of the image and if it balanced out correctly in the processing lab.

Assuming that you brought your camera in the last ten years, you have the option for shooting in both mediums. Let’s look at the differences between the two below.


Contrast 101

In this first image, the photograph was taken from a coloured RAW image and has been post processed in Photoshop to B&W. No further alterations have been made.

It is important to note, that when shooting purely in B&W it is always best to work with several contrasting colours in the field of view, otherwise you’ll end up with too many greys, which can only make for a rather boring photograph that only your dear old Nan will enjoy!

You can of course alter the contrast within Photoshop and other image editing software tools, which can make up for this. However, you run the risk of sacrificing the finer details of the image.

This increase in contrast regrettably, has blown out the white to rather ridiculous extremes; drawing the focus away from the lighthouse and into this central channel of bright white, that covers the entire photograph.

Looks Awesome Let’s Print it!

Rather annoyingly; unless you have an expensive printer, this can also be a somewhat frustrating task; certainly if you intend to hang the final image.


As much as LCD screens have helped massively with photographic editing, when it comes to printing, the screen’s backlight can quickly become your worst enemy, so it is advised that you purchase some cheap photographic paper to experiment with first, until you are happy with the results to move on to the more expensive paper.

Or, if you have the dollar, and want to save yourself the time (and be Eco friendly in the process) you can get yourself a monitor calibrator. The i1 Display 2 is by far the best on the market.

Every Photograph Tells a Story

The best way to approach your decision, is to ask yourself the question “what am I trying to say with this photograph?”


If you’re gunning for mood and grit, then I would say that you couldn’t go far wrong with B&W. Yet, both can help to portray the narrative of a photograph.

With a B&W image, the feelings are almost always the absolutes that work best. One of my favourite B&W photographers is Bill Brandt.








您的电子邮箱地址不会被公开。 必填项已用*标注