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The world of Black and White or Monochrome Photography

By Editor Colin Dixon
Edited and published by Yvette Depaepe, the 28th of April 2023


'Morning Ride' by Peter Svoboda MQEP


The world of black and white photography can be a wonderful place. It’s a place where the colours are muted, yet the contrasts are high. Whether it is capturing architecture, landscapes or people, it has endless possibilities.


Black and white photography has been around for as long as the camera itself. Photography began with monochrome images for the first one hundred years, until 1935 when Kodak introduced colour film, Kodachrome then Kodacolor. Of course many people did not convert and continued to use Black and White film.

As Ansel Adams said discussing the differences between the two types of photography, one task for photographers was to simplify an image down to its core–often this comes in colours like black or white!

Digital photography arrived and now we have the possibility to choose to produce our images in Colour or Monochrome.

So why chose to lose all the colour details in our digital files?

It’s important to have a reason for converting black and white, but it can be difficult because you need certain elements in order to do so. First is the most crucial: good contrast between light and dark areas–without this distinction all your photos will come out as flat and un-interesting. Black and white photos can be beautiful and, at times, you may think must convert a photo to Black and white. But just because they look good doesn’t mean every photo should be in black-and-white; you need to know the reason behind why they look better or worse.

The best black and white photos are sharp with good contrast between shades of light grey or dark greys as well as natural highlights from whites on a face for example. They also can have greater depth adding dimension to an object’s shape such as wrinkles on skin, folds in fabric etc. But the single most important thing that makes a Black and White Photo is BLACK and WHITE and all the tones in between. If the image does not have all the tones right from Black to White then it could deemed be flat.


So let us look at some of the most important areas to help us achieve this in a Mono image.


The shadows in your black and white photos give you the overall mood.  Shadows are not just darker regions, they can dictate how a photo should feel like. If you want to evoke intensity or emotion then go for dark but if you need something more complex choose subtle shadows with some details.


'Waiting for hope' by Sara Goli


'This way' by Sulaiman Almawash


In black and white photography, contrast is more than just the difference between bright and dark. The graduation of the different shades of grey has such an impact especially with people’s faces and bodies.
In high-contrast photographs there are always contrasting shadows that give it an added sense of drama or intensity.


'When you make your face a canvas' by Sergio Pandolfini


Low contrast photos can be less impactful, but the softer muted quality can work equally well. 


'Ronnie' by Zachar Rise


This is the underlying brightness and shades of grey that appear in images. Tones are like a foundation on which every black-and-white photo rests. You may have heard phrases such as high key or low key photography; but remember most photos fall somewhere between bright and dark either being more white than black (high key);


'Zipper' by Wieteke de Kogel

 or vice versa (low key). 


'Le contrebassiste' by Strugala Didier


Ansel Adams created the Zone System for grey scales from 0- For Black to 10 for white



If you are a user of Silver Efex pro plug in, in Lightroom or Photoshop you can use this in your conversions as it is built into the software interface. Most people would avoid Zone X – 10 unless you are doing a high key image and avoid Zone 0 unless you are doing a low key image. But a broad range of tones is necessary in all good monochrome images. So a good range between 1 and 9 is what you need for a good monochrome photo to work.


'The Art of Frozen Time' by Yvette Depaepe



Finally Shapes are so important in Mono images. Without the colour interference and distraction we can as photographers draw the viewers eye with the shapes (now elevated) in our Monochromatic images.


'Sunny day' by Luc Vangindertael (laGrange)


Of course on 1x we are spoilt by the wonderful Black and White works of our members.


'A long road to go' by Jacob Tuinenga


'I do not see you!' by Boris Belokonov



'The Profiles of two Women' by Jan Lykke


'Rainy day' by Julien Oncete



'Yosemite National Park' by Larry Deng



'Zagging that Zig' by Howard Ashton-Jones



'Vitra-Park' by Wolfgang Mothes



'Wynyard Station' by Graeme



'Monochrome Figure Study' by Brennan Finighan – EFIAP FAPS


Beautiful and awesome!
Ottimo articolo con il top della fotografia in B&W
...nice text with splendid and impressive images. Many congrats...
A very nice article and thank you for selecting one of my images! My compliments to you and to all!
I congratulate you very well.
Brilliant work by everyone and thank you for the editorial Colin.
Thank you Wayne
너무너무 좋아요
Outstanding images, so inspiring!. Thank you!
Fabulous set of images. Very inspirational.
txules PRO
Wonderful selection of pictures and write up. Thanks so much
Excellent and very educative write up accompanied by wonderful black and white photos. Many thanks Colin, well done and also great thanks to Yvette for publishing it.
My pleasure, Miro !
Thank you Miro
Monochrome is a world of its own - brilliant article - really enjoyed it...
Excellent and excellent!!! Appreciate the article very much! Try to learn while practice.
Wonderful ... thank you for sharing one of my images
No problem :)
Superb!, thanks for sharing.
A really fantastic selection! 🤩 Thank you for this 🥰
Estupendo trabajo
Great photos and selection 👍
Great art works !
A fine approach of BW Photography, Colin! Excellent article ... and thanks for selecting one of my images :-)
Thank you and your welcome :)
Beautiful images, congratulations
Fantastic work. Congrats