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3 Amazing Canon Camera Features For Black and White Photography

Black and white photography is a form of art. Monochrome is a medium with a rich history, yet a very bright past and future. Let’s not forget, the very first pictures we ever took as humans, were in black and white. Many can go as far as to say that working in black and white can help you in becoming a better photographer. This form pf photography was one of the photography trends that were seen throughout 2018 and are likely to gallop into 2019 as well. 

Eliminating Colours, Incorporating Textures

Color is a very powerful element, and it tends to dominate all the other aspects like contrast, tones, textures, grittiness, shape, size, depth, form, and the intensity of light. If you want to learn these elements, you should work in monochrome as the color will overwhelm your learning process.

Images in monochrome are seen to elude stronger feelings of visual empathy as well, as seen by visual content studies on the subject. This is used by many brands as a selling point while making adverts and marketing campaigns. 

Black and white on your camera

Before the advent of digital photography, all photographers worked  in black and white. There was no other option so it was the norm. Now, the option of having coloured photography as well has given this form of photography a new charm and feel.

The cameras that have an electronic viewfinder automatically display the image in black and white,if you select the appropriate settings for it. This helps you to see how the image will turn out, before you take the shots. 

Before or After?

The most reliable way to use your DSLR camera for monochrome or black and white photography is to use it with color and then convert the images later. However, if you are learning monochrome photography do not go for this option. Shoot directly in black and white.

There are some ways to change the settings of your camera to allow yourself to shoot black and white photos. With this approach, you can focus on vital things such as light density and texture, without getting distracted by color. Many websites host free images that have been converted to black and white after being originally colored. 

Why Canon for Your Black and White Photography?

If you shoot without your monochrome settings on your Canon camera, they will be permanently black and white.  The ‘Picture Style’ settings of your Canon are permanent, so if you’ve chosen “Monochrome, the image will stay in monochrome, and cannot be converted to the colored image.

If you are not sure what style you want your photos to stay, shoot them in coloured and  process those raw images with Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software. The images can be made monochrome, but now you have the option to revert those raw files to colored photos with no loss in their quality.

However, if you are learning black and white photography and wish to eliminate all the distractions of tone, texture, and density that come in with color; then you can go for shooting directly in B&W. Heres three tips on how to do it efficiently on your Canon camera

Use the Auto Light Optimizer – ALO

The Auto Lighting Optimizer, also known as ALO, carries out the pre-processing in the camera to preserve shadow details while capturing high-contrast scenes. This seems to be one of the major concerns for a digital photographer who wants to take monochrome pictures. This setting allows them to hold out shadows detail under high contrasting situations.

Shooting in the raw format manually helps attain the maximum details, but that can prove to be time-consuming, which is not recommended for professional shooters. For most photographers, editing raw images can be a hassle as it takes time. This is where ALO can be quite useful for shooters working on a deadline as it automatically adjusts the contrast of photos right in their raw formats.

Auto Light Optimizer can also add the required boost in contrast to images that have low contrast. This is of great help when shooting in the fog or dusty environments.

You can set your Canon camera’s Auto Light Optimizer (ALO) adjustment to:

  • Off (0)
  •  Low (1)
  •  Standard (2)
  •  Strong (3)

However,  most Canon cameras default to the ‘Standard” settings.

DPP – A great help with Canon cameras.

With Canon, you get the  “Digital Photo Professional” (DPP) software package.

Despite the fact that most photographers only work with Adobe Photoshop, Canon provides with the DPP software. This software, nevertheless offers some distinct features, especially for a black and white photographer shooting in the camera raw format

Why DPP?

  • Better user interface
  • Fast real-time adjustments
  • Improved camera raw file workflow
  • Dual display support
  • Compatible 64-bit native environments
  • Adjustments for specific color gamuts

Highlight Tone Priority

Canon cameras have an in-built Highlight Tone Priority feature, which allows it to shift picture dynamics from mid-tones to the highlights. This allows for more detail to be added into the bright highlighted areas. This also avoids the overexposed highlights; which is quite the common problem in digital monochrome photography.

This feature is useful to the photographers who wish to convert their colored images to black and white pictures by processing their images with the Canon DPP software. Other raw processing software like Adobe will not recognize this Highlight Tone Priority feature within the file as they are not attuned to the Canon settings. The DPP software that is built on a Canon camera settings format will recognize the HTP on camera raw files as well.

What Picture Style? Monochrome.

This final Canon camera option is last but not least. In fact, for the black & white shooter, it is a personal favorite.

The Canon camera allows you the versatility of shooting your images in the monochrome format by using your Canon camera.  

All you have to do is download the DPP software, which is completely free. Then, set your image file format to camera raw, and start shooting! However, you need to the canon picture style mode to monochrome

This allows the photographer to “preview” what a monochrome image would look like. They do not need to imagine the image in their head, but can now actually be able to see how the image will look in black and white. This still gives them the opportunity to convert this image back to a full color, in case they change their mind.

Whats the best thing to do?

Making use of the Monochrome Picture Style technique is the perfect way to build upon your black and white photography skills. This helps you to evaluate the tone of your picture in a color, density, and texture scene. This is how you can do it in four simple steps:

  1. Shoot in Monochrome.
  2. Evaluate the tonal range.
  3. Revert to Color.
  4. Manually convert to black and white.

I hope this was useful!


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