Colour or Black and White

Colour or Black and White Photography

Do you shoot in colour or black and white for best results?

Black and white photography is timeless. Never before has it been easier to shoot in both colour and black and white without changing film. Most digital camera's now have the ability or preset mode/style/user setting to be able to shoot in black and white. This means that you can instantly see on the rear screen how the image will look in black and white.

Important Note: This is a HUGE benefit of shooting or learning to shoot RAW as opposed to JPEG. If you shoot JPEG (Fine, medium or small), the image taken is in black and white and will stay black and white. However, if you shoot the image in RAW whilst in “monochrome” mode, you can switch back to colour later on in the RAW processing software. Perfect.

We cover this in more detail with a short video in the ​Advanced section here.

Once you decide to have a “black and white day”, set your camera appropriately and get out and about. I can guarantee you will see the world through completely different eyes. You will learn to see scenic’s and landscapes that you just know will look better in black and white or even sepia.

It can be a great topic and opens up a whole new world to your photography.

Black and White Portrait Photography

You could even try shooting portraits in black and white. When you remove the colour elements from a person, their personality can shine through even more. Try it.

Of course, you can always shoot colour (either JPEG or RAW) and convert it later during post processing. However, I like to set the camera to monochrome so that every time I shoot an image, I see it in black and white immediately. I am in then “black and white mode” for as long as I wish.

Do you really want to get funky? Switch to black and white mode, stick a red filter on the front and see what it does to cloudy skies! The contrast is heavily increased as the filter darkens the sky yet brightens the clouds. Very dramatic!


Of course, the beauty of digital photography is that you don't need to go out and buy a filter any more. Through the magic of digital imaging and editing software, you can easily re-create this effect in say Photoshop.




​Colour or Black and White?

There's lots to play with here. Set your camera to RAW but set the picture style to black and white.

Note: If you are unsure about how to set your particular camera to RAW and picture style to black and white, either read the manual or go online and search for the method. It's impossible for me to explain the process for all cameras here.

This will produce a file that holds all the information, colour and black and white, but will display the review image on your cameras rear screen as black and white.

Spend some time out and about shooting in black and white and see if your "mind's eye" starts to see in black and white. Look for details that will benefit from a monochrome look.

When you get home, use either some free editing software (Canon's DPP if you shoot Canon for example) or load into Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop and play with the settings. Add digital filters like the afore-mentioned Red filter and watch the effects.

Also look at the black and white filters over at Kubota Image Tools. They have some stunning black and white effects that only take the click of a button. Very addictive.

I have all of their tools and my favourite "bundle" is Artistic Tools V2. Check it out.