How to create memorable monotone shots

Black-and-white photography is back.

Black-and-white (monotone or greyscale) photography can have real impact - it's certainly no poor relation to colour. In fact, removing the colour from a photo can sometimes be the making of it, as the revival of black-and-white wedding photography and the appeal of monotone posters prove.

Many of the most famous and perpetually popular photographers - not least celebrated landscape artist Ansel Adams - worked in black and white. In his case, the subtle colour we enjoy today had yet to arrive, but it's safe to say his dramatic photos wouldn't have had the same impact in gaudy hues.

It seems strange, then, that so few of us experiment with black-and-white photography. Most digital cameras can shoot in monotone, but you can also get great results by shooting in colour and converting your photographs later on. In this workshop we'll cover both approaches. We describe various methods of converting colour images, and we'll show you how to set up your camera to shoot in monotone from the outset. We also assess which method offers the most pleasing results.

Not all subjects look great in greyscale, however. We'll help you decide which are the best examples to practise on.

In the 1870s, Frank Sutcliffe shot photos of sailing ships in Whitby harbour. Some 130 years later, those timeless photos are treasured pieces of art history. While we can't teach you how to take the sort of photos that may one day go on to inspire others, the advice we offer here should give you a good grounding in how to capture memorable shots.

In this workshop we've used Corel Photo-Paint X3 to process the images. This is bundled with CorelDraw X3 (£199 inc VAT, scan.co.uk), but earlier versions may be picked up more cheaply. In any case, you'll be able to replicate our results with almost any photo-manipulation package.

Convert colour photos to black and white

1. Photo editors provide various methods of converting a colour photograph to greyscale. There's usually a ‘Convert to greyscale' function. If not, turn the saturation down to 0 in the HLS channel mixer. Remember to save a copy of your photo so that you can always revert to the original.

Pho161_1.1

2. Blue skies will often end up a pale grey colour, indistinguishable from clouds. Black-and-white film photographers use red filters to block blue light and darken the sky. Reducing the blue and green channels to zero in the RGB channel mixer before converting photos produces the same effect. Adjust the brightness to compensate.

Pho161_1.2

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags photography

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mike Bedford

PC Advisor (UK)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?