When photography first became a hobby, there was only one aesthetic medium: black and white. It wasn’t until the thirties that color became an option for shooting and viewing imagery, but there’s still something really special about a black and white photo. It’s not just for nostalgia or achieving a retro look, it can also be the most powerful means for communicating a message with your photography.
While color photography is a great medium (and the norm for shooting nowadays), there are certain instances where black and white might be the best option. Luckily, BeFunky’s Photo Editor features several shades of Black & White effects that you can use to compare the mood between color and the lack thereof. This way, you can determine what’s best for your photo in a single click!
Black And White Vs. Color Photography
Photography is all about capturing moments and storytelling in a visual way, and doing it well involves making decisions that will evoke some sort of feeling in the person looking at the photo. When you’re deciding whether to make an image black and white or enhance it’s colors, a good place to begin is to ask yourself why a photograph matters and what makes it important. Is it the textures, the expression on your subject’s face, the contrast, or the color involved?
The ability to get your viewer to connect and relate to your photo can happen whether you use color or not, but while color photography can be captivating, it can sometimes detract from the message you’re trying to communicate. With the color removed, the photo becomes solely about the connection the audience makes with the subject.
Take the image below for example. While the colored photograph is beautiful, the black and white version cuts back on distractions you see in the color variants, which helps put more focus on the subject and the emotion they are evoking.
Black and white photography is not a technical limitation, rather it is a creative choice that helps you isolate and draw attention to a part of the photo that might have otherwise been overlooked.
When To Use Black And White Effects
Black and white photography challenges the photographer to look at an image for its relationship with light, texture, composition, and the elements in the shot. The best thing about converting a photo to black and white is that it works well for most images, especially when the colors in the photo aren’t the main focal point. Here are the instances where it can really enhance the feel of the photo:
When color is distracting. Sometimes a photo can look too busy with too many colors going on. If you feel that the color in a photo is detracting from the importance of the subject, use black and white to eliminate distractions.
Photos with texture. If you have a shot with rich texture, try removing the color so that it will force people to notice the texture of something that they might normally overlook.
High contrast photos. If you’ve got a shot that includes a lot of natural contrast between light and dark sources, black and white can make it even more dramatic.
Portrait photography. With the color stripped from a portrait, more emphasis is put on the emotion that the subject is eliciting, which can oftentimes make for a more compelling shot.
How To Edit Images With Black And White Effects
With all of this in mind, it’s time to try your hand at telling a more compelling story with BeFunky's Black & White effects! To get started, upload a photo into the Photo Editor and click on the Effects tab (the star icon) in the left side menu, then select the Black & White category.
Here you will find an array of Black & White filters that you can preview on your image just by clicking on them. When you find the effect you like the most, you can click the green checkmark to apply it, or for customizing the effect even more, click on the Settings Menu (looks like a mixing board).
In the effect’s Settings Menu, you can easily adjust the Effect Amount, Highlights, and Shadows using their respective sliders. Once you’ve got the effect looking just right, click the blue checkmark to confirm.
And voila, you’ve got a compelling black and white photo in just a few clicks!
Using Black And White Filters Selectively
Another unique editing option you can do with these effects is to make part of the photo remain colorful, while the rest of the photo is black and white. When done right, the end result looks really neat and almost tricks your eye before you realize the rest of the photo is black and white. Just like deciding if the color in a photo adds or detracts from the emotion or message you’re trying to convey, leave a portion of the frame in color only if it rounds out the message you are trying to share.
With your photo uploaded in the Photo Editor, click on the Effects tab and select the Black & White category.
Choose the Black & White effect you like the most and click on it’s Settings Menu. Feel free to adjust the effect to your liking before clicking the Paint tab.
With the brush that appears, paint the portion of the image that you want to keep colored. You do not have to be super precise here, as there is a handy eraser you can use to easily fix your mistakes!
If you need to zoom in for precision, you can easily move around your image by holding down the Spacebar while clicking and dragging your image.
The finished result will first attract the eye to the colored portion of the photo first, making it stand out amongst the black and white in a unique way!
If you need to switch up your routine or simply challenge yourself to see beyond color, follow the link below to try playing around with these Black & White effects for your photography! See if there is an element you can draw out of your photo that would convey a deeper or more powerful message to your audience.
Now when you go out into the world and think about looking at a scene simply for its relationship between light and dark, texture, and composition, your eye will become better trained for all of your photography practices!