from the New York Institute of Photography
A little bit of red goes a long way when you've got a nasty vampire on your hands. When using
spot color, don't overdo the amount of color in the picture. A great pose, and dramatic
lighting add to the power of this photo.
Before there was color photography, there was black-and-white photography. In today's world
we've become accustomed to color photography — in magazines and newspapers, as well as lots
and lots of color images on our favorite Web sites.
But for most of the history of photography the world was recorded in monochromatic tones —
a photograph was a two-dimensional rendering of light and dark patches that created a
black-and-white likeness of a real-world scene. Sometimes the dark portions were dark gray
and black, other times dark brown and deep brown (sepia).
Today, given that we live in a full-color world, black-and-white photos can have a special significance.
Black-and-white is back because it's part of the power of photography.
If you look around, you'll notice that black-and-white is back in print advertising. In today's
saturated-color manipulated-image world, black-and-white feels real. It has a sense of authenticity,
even at times a gritty feeling. To many, it stands out in the sea of color and calls attention to
This is a perfect subject for a black-and-white photo. How blonde is her hair?
Is her lipstick red, orange, or black? Eye color and eyeliner? It doesn't matter — she's
scary! The tight composition, cropping of the hands, and in-your-face expression all
add to the photo's impact.
Black-and-white is back because brides want to see black-and-white photos in their wedding albums.
The bottom line? Black-and-white photography is back because it's beautiful.
For Halloween photos, some ghosts and spooks will actually look more ghostly and more spooky
if you photograph them in black-and-white, so we encourage you to try this technique as you take
pictures for our exciting Picture Perfect Halloween Photo Contest.
In the old days, if you wanted a black-and-white photo, you had to start by purchasing black-and-white
film. Today things are much easier, and you have two perfectly good options:
First, you can shoot directly in black-and-white. In almost all digital cameras (and many
camera phones) somewhere in the menu you will find a selection that will cause the camera to
record a black-and-white image, or even a sepia-and-white image. Remember, these are both
monochromatic renderings that just use different tones. Both of them give a sense of "realism"
to the image and sepia also adds a nostalgic feel.
This one is a close call. Part of the scary aspect of this photo is the low angle so we're looking up
at this towering, not-at-all smiling clown. Could he have an axe in the hand we don't see? Did he
knock before he opened the door? Do the blue hair, red nose and face paint make him scarier in
color, or does color take away from the scene? You be the judge.
Your second option is to take regular color images and then convert them to black-and-white,
or sepia, or even blue-and-white or red-and-white (the latter might be great for devils and
other active demons). Many professionals prefer this approach since it allows them to have
both a color and black-and-white version of the same image. If you photograph a subject in
black-and-white initially, it's hard to add color. Another reason for the pro's preference
is that you have more control this way. It can also allow you to perform tricks like "spot
color," where the overall image, let's say a vampire, is converted to black-and-white, except
for the red blood-shot eyes and the trickle of red blood on the chin.
Both of these spooky still life photos are somber. The sepia-toned version loses the
bright fall color of the maple leaf under the skull, but the sepia makes the photo
look older and spookier.
Manipulating color images will depend on the type of camera you're using and the software you
have available, so if you decide to capture in color and convert to black-and-white or spot color,
you'll need to look for specific instructions about how to accomplish that with your equipment
and image-editing software.
A good way to get a sense of how this might benefit your photos is to try it with some of the
pictures you take for the contest and see if you prefer the black-and-white version to the color
one. Give it a try — you may like what you see!