My name is Lindsay Smith of Lindsay Smith Photography and I’m so honored that Erin has asked me to speak on my black and white images!
I love black and white’s. In fact, I have to be careful when editing through a client’s gallery not to make too many of them Black and White because I know they are not everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve even considered making the shift to shoot ONLY monochrome images for my business… I decided against that, but I think you may have an idea of just how much I love this type of imagery.
I want to share with you some tips on how I make my black and white images from start to finish. I hope you find them helpful and useful the next time you are shooting!
When I think of B+W photos what comes to mind are things like timeless-raw-emotion-connectio
n-old and memories. I also think of old films and movies that have that staticky/grainy look to them, and that’s why you’ll notice some grain in my photos as well. I’m not old enough to have had my childhood documented with black and white film, but I love the thought of that.
I have great memories of looking through my Mom & Dad’s 3×3 black and white prints over and over. Also flipping through any and every photo that was taken of my brother and I as kids, our family or places we went. Photos in black and white or in color are memories frozen in time and I love how timeless they can look years later if processed the right way.
While I’m shooting, whether it’s for myself or for a paying client, I am thinking about which shots I’m going to convert to black and white.
1- A moment when a special connection takes place between people i.e. a glance, a smile, strong eye contact with the camera, or even a soulful look. I know that’s going to be the one as soon as I take the shot.
2- Tell a Story Black and White images have to be strong on their own as they don’t have the color to bring them to life. They are emotive, to draw you in- sincere, playful, full of love. They tell a story.
3- Look for Texture
4- Look for light
5- Look for Shadows
6- Look for Lines
7- Look for Patterns
8- Look for Shapes to make images stand out and become more interesting to the eye.
9- Find contrast that already exists in a setting can be the perfect starting point when creating monochrome images-then you can enhance that in post processing.
10- Timeless and Classic- I like to use black and white with newborns to give them that classic look that never goes out of style.
1- Shoot Raw format
2- Use Lightroom 6 to edit
3- Tonal Contrast
For black and whites, tonal contrast (which is the difference in tones from the lightest tone to the darkest tone), is key.
4- Black and White Preset- After I cull the images and mark the ones I want to convert, I use a preset by Kevin+Stephanie (KSP pack1). It’s a quick and easy click that helps keep my images consistent. I also value my time so an easy edit is a must.
Although their whole pack is amazing I like their KSP- BW1 preset as a starting point.
5- Reduce Highlights I then reduce my highlights slightly
6- Add more contrast and pull my blacks down a bit
7- Grain They’ve already added the grain that I like so that’s one step I don’t have to do, but I typically reduce it to about a 20.
9- Sharpening I also think sharpening is super important and brings out the contrast you’ve created and enhanced even more so!
10 Touch up – When I’m happy with the way it looks in Lr, I open in Photoshop CC to sharpen and fix any skin imperfections. I’ve created a high pass filter action that I run on all of my images to sharpen them to my liking, and then click save.
TIP: Just be careful as too much sharpening will not look good. You’ll know if you over sharpened if you see white edges and a fuzzy halo around each detail of your image.
Black and White images are strong and so fun to create- I hope you find an opportunity to get out and make something new today!
It was so fun sharing with you all,