Most digital SLRs and point and shoot cameras can capture black and white images. Winter is a good time to experiment with this feature because of the general lack of color.
Find and enable this feature on your camera and then head out looking for suitable subjects.
This early morning scene shows the mystery of the branches lit by a streetlight against the dark predawn sky.
Because you will not be capturing any color from your images, look for a scene that shows the contrast between light and dark elements. You may also find that foggy scenes where everything is not only by nature monochromatic but also biased towards mid tones is a great option for black and white photography.
Another topic which can be rendered interestingly rendered in black and white is texture and repeating elements – the lack of color will enhance the texture and draw attention to the repeating elements.
If your camera does not have a light meter, or if it is not working, you have a few options. Perhaps the easiest solution is to simply purchase a handheld light meter. You can also follow what is known as the Sunny 16 rule. This rule states that on a sunny day you simply set your aperture to f/16 and your shutter speed to the speed of your film (ISO) or next shutter speed over. So if you have ISO 100 film you would set your shutter speed to 125. The Sunny 16 rule can still be used if it is not a sunny day, please refer to the below cart as an example:
Hazy SunSoft Shadows
CloudyBarely Visible Shadows
f / 16
f / 11
f / 8
f / 5.6
Some modern cameras have automatic exposure settings known as shutter speed priority and aperture priority. With shutter speed priority you can select the shutter speed you would like to use and it will automatically select the appropriate aperture. With aperture priority you select the aperture and the camera automatically selects the shutter speed. In tricky lighting conditions, such as the previously mentioned beach or winter photography, these automatic settings should not be used as you will need to overexpose or underexpose which can only be done through manual settings.
With this basic understanding of exposure you can shoot your first roll of film. When complete you’ll begin the process of developing the film and printing your black and white photography.
Black and White Winter Photography
The bright whites and heavy blacks of winter lends itself to black and white photography nicely. Don’t fight with trying to get a good color photo if is not possible. You’ll be surprised how well some scenes that look crummy in color, look incredible in black & white. Most of today’s higher end cameras shoot only in color only. You convert the photograph to Black & White using image editing software. To help you get an idea of what the color photograph is going to look like in black and white, most cameras a live view option that can be set to monochrome. Make sure to use this option if your camera has it, as it can greatly help setting up your B&W shots.
A quick tip to help your Black/White photos is to remember that most good B&W pictures include at least some PURE Black and White. What I mean by this, is just don’t take shots consisting only grey scale elements, make sure to include the high contrast pure blacks and whites.
1.) Open up. Heavy snow scenes can cause you camera to meter too dark. Open your camera up 1-2 stops (+1 or +2 EV) to correctly expose images.
2.) Keep your camera at outside temperatures. You may be tempted place your camera in your jacket or inside you warm car while it’s not in use. This will only cause condensation on the lens and mirror when you take it back into the cold. In real humid climates, it could cause heavy condensation internally which could damage your camera. Most cameras will operate under all but the most extreme winter temperatures just fine.
3.) Take your batteries out. Batteries don’t like cold weather and will quickly stop producing a charge when exposed freezing tempartures. Simply take you batteries out and place them in your pocket, when your camera is not in use. If you need to quickly warm-up your batteries, place them inside your jacket and under your arm-pits … it may sound silly, but your body concentrates a lot of heat in that area.
4.) Hold your breath … when you mouth is close to your camera. Breathing on your camera will cause lens, the viewfinder and LCD screens to fog up. In really cold weather, the fog will quickly freeze.
5.) Use a good, water resistant camera case. You want a case that will seal your camera away from snow and rain while protecting it in case you take a fall on icy surfaces.
6.) Move your tripod. Try not to keep your tripod in one spot for too long. The legs may end up freezing there. Also try to keep you tripod as dry and free of snow as possible as you don’t want ice build-up to prevent you from retracting or extending it.
7.) Dress Warmly. Remember that photography will keep you standing in one place not doing much activity for extended periods of time. This will cause you to get cold quickly if you’re not dressed for it. It’s always a good idea to bring extra warm clothing in a pack, just in case the temperature drops.
8.) Use functional gloves. Bulky gloves will cause you to go insane when trying you operate your cameras functions, while taking you gloves off will make for frozen fingers. Find a pair of gloves that are both warm and thin fitting enough to let you freely use your camera. I personally use a pair of cross country skiing gloves for winter photo work.