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Why I Recommend Shooting in B&W with your Fuji, Even If You Plan to Process in Color (NSFW)

· 3.August.2017

There is little doubt that in today’s world, appreciation for black and white imagery is more of an acquired taste than it is a default state of mind. I had to grow to love black and white myself, in my younger years I had a very strong dislike of it for some reason. But now I shoot almost exclusively in black and white, even when I know I will likely be choosing to process in color, and in this post today I wanted to explain my recommendation that you do the same.

Besides general exposure, what are some of the most important things to consider when you are taking a shot? For me, it comes down to framing/composition and contrast. In my opinion, shooting in black and white makes two of those three things, Exposure and Contrast, much easier to see and deal with in real time. Speaking to contrast specifically, by that I am referring to the difference in tonality between the whites and blacks, it can be really hard to learn how to see that clearly in a color image. There are just a ton of tonal variations and for the untrained eye, it is much harder to pick up. In black and white though, the variation in tonality is much more linear, from black to shades of gray to white.

For me, this was a huge moment and step forward in regard to the quality of my imagery. Being able to see my contrast and ‘see the light’ without being distracted by colors allowed me to focus on getting that contrast and exposure right where I wanted it to be every time. I’ve gotten it to the point now that I can almost completely nail my dark and moody black and white look in camera, and when it comes time to process the images, it’s simply a matter of applying one of my custom presets, adding some grain and doing whatever skin cleanup I feel is necessary – all together maybe a 2 or 3-minute job depending on how good her makeup and skin were.

I shoot in black and white with my X-Pro2 regardless of if I am planning to process in color or not because I have found that if I nail my look in the black and white, it ends up needing less tweaking in color than when I would shoot in color in camera. This is partly going back to what I was talking about before, fussing with things like white balance or color profile, things that can be changed in post-processing anyway. Seeing them wrong in color would make it hard to concentrate on aspects of the shot that were important, shooting in black and white none of those distractions are there. I can focus on the important aspects of my images.

Now, this is not to say you will shoot better images doing it my way vs shooting in color. Obviously, most people have great success shooting in color. But specifically for those newer to photography or those who find themselves fussing about unimportant color-related distractions while shooting, this technique can be a great tool to help improve the quality your work.

There are those of you out there that may have stylistic differences from me, and that is fine. You may think that my work is horrible – also fine. But my point is, by shooting this way I am able to create the look that I am going for and I am able to do it almost completely in camera, and I think that we should all be able to agree that this is a win for any photographer – shooting style aside.

So I challenge you to set your Fujifilm camera to black and white, give it a try. Use the simplicity of it to help you refine your eye for exposure, contrast, and understanding of light. Even if you end up going back to shooting in color while shooting, once you have that lightbulb moment, the benefit to your photography will be visible to anyone looking at your work.

Now I have shared several examples so far of black and white images that I shot in black and white (obviously), but for those of you wondering how color works – here are a few examples. But really people, its no different once you get the RAW file onto your computer except for your thought process and what you visually saw while you were shooting. But as I said, here are some examples of color processed images that I shot in black and white during the shoot.




I am curious, who else shoots in black and white? Even when planning to process in color? Leave a comment below and share your experiences with it!

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Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a photographer based out of the beautiful pacific northwest. He specializes mostly in boudoir photography, but also enjoys a variety of other photography niches in his free time. Find Him On His Website.

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