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Someone recently told me that black & white is overdone. I actually believe the opposite is true. I think that people don't convert their color images to black & white often enough. In my opinion, if color isn't essential to the point of an image then it should be made monochrome.
Black & white photographs work different than color, so you have to think about the entire process differently. Below are five elements of successful black & white photographs.
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Look for ways to emphasize the most interesting aspects of the shape of the subject that is within the scene. Make the composition of the shapes intriguing.
Often subtle patterns get lost in color photographs. This is because the color draws the viewer's attention away from the pattern. The viewer might glance right past it.
With black & white, as long as the tones are far enough apart, patterns become obvious. Monochrome images allow the viewer to better see the shapes formed by the pattern in the scene.
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Because black & white is abstract by nature, our mind's bias is more removed, and we are able to notice the fine texture more easily. In monochrome, texture is more prominent.
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Because there is not color to differentiate between elements within a scene, contrasting shades of grey are essential to successful monochrome images. Contrast is when a lighter area and darker area touch each other in a photograph.
What you must ensure is that the main subject has sufficient contrast to draw the viewer's eyes to it. You must also ensure that there is not another high-contrast element within the scene to distract the viewer's attention away from where you want it to go.
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What "good light" is depends on the scene and how you want your image to look. What is good light for one image may not be for another. You may want even light. You may want light from one side. You may want soft light. You may want harsh light. Each photograph and each situation must be judged individually. It is the photographer's job to determine what is the best light for each image, and to wait until that light exists or artificially create it.