I love monochrome. Some tips how to shoot better black and white photos on your phone:

1. Shadows

Keep it simple. Photograph shadows.

And when you’re shooting, look at the edges and corners of your frame, and compose the scene how you like it.

2. Play with composition

For me, black and white is fun to play with composition.

When you’re shooting monochrome, play with lines, shapes and forms.

Experiment with where you place white and where you place black.

3. Water drops

Water is one of the origins of life.

Photograph water. Shoot water drops, or bodies of water.

See how abstract you can make water render in black and white.

4. Look for faces

When I see abstract scenes, textures, and things, I look for faces.

5. Gritty textures

This is the fun thing about nature:

When you photograph gritty textures or rough surfaces, they are “fractal”– closeups of tree bark can look the same as a mountain range!

6. Craft black and white images that look good to you

Processing pictures with Google Photos app

You don’t take a black and white photo, you make a black and white photo.

Use filters, post processing apps to create a black and white look which is appealing to you.

I like the “Vista” monochrome filter in Google Photos.

Also, you can further craft more dramatic monochrome pictures by adjusting the different sliders. Just experiment with the sliders until you make photos that look beautiful to you!

Post processing for Google Photos on Google Pixel 3. Very good integration with Google Photos app

7. Use a flash

Flash inside toaster

Flash makes photos look more surreal, interesting, or impactful.

For example, if you shoot a photo with a flash, you have more control afterwards how you process the pictures. You can achieve deeper blacks, and brighter whites:

No flash.
With flash

8. Shoot black and white preview (if your camera has it)

Shot monochrome mode on Samsung Galaxy Phone

Some phone cameras allow you to shoot black and white directly. If your phone camera has the ability to shoot directly into black and white, do it!

Black and white mode on Samsung Galaxy
Shot monochrome mode on Samsung Galaxy

9. Balance the black and the white

When shooting black and white, keep your scene simple, yet strive to make a strong contrast between the whites in your scene and the blacks in your scene.

10. Simple light

If you see a little light peering through, just shoot the light! Lower the exposure compensation on your phone to capture the delicate light.


Takeaways

  1. For inspiration on black and white, study the paintings of Franz Kline.
  2. Look at the old school Master Monochrome Photographers for inspiration (W. Eugene Smith, Richard Avedon, Edward Weston).
  3. Make monochrome images which look beautiful to you!

Shoot on,
ERIC

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