Shoot In Black and White Q&A
any questions I have a question here came in from online from Kell Eagle, who says that make up for old black and white movies was very garish to create dramatic looks. Costumes were also chosen for contrast. I know that when we were looking at my wardrobe, you wanted to have the scarf. You want some texture? What kind of things do you look for when you're thinking about wardrobe for black? So whenever I'm thinking about wardrobe on, he's thinking about texture so toothy, like really like If it's a sweater, it needs to be sweater with big yarn. Not a thin sweat like not a smooth, whether it needs to be really rich sweater with lots of big yarn in it, things like that. Or, for instance, when we were dealing with my scarf, it waas you know it has that ribbing to it. And then when I draped the scarf, I want the scarf to kind of draped with some big folds in it and things like that, because that creates that shadow. What you're looking for is anything that can create shadow, light, shadow,...
light shadow. I mean, you think about this shadow, light, shadow light shadow light. So when lit correctly from the from the right side of the left side of the of the photo than anything with texture is going to be much better than something that's kind of just flat. So for hair, if you have a woman that's coming in and you're gonna do a black and white portrait, don't have her do her hair straight. Big curls like you know, those big, chunky curls much better in black and white than a flat, you know, because then you you've got that extra texture and you get a little light and then shadows and then lights and then shadows. So that's really good. Um, and then, of course, color contrast if you know it's gonna be black and white than every piece of clothing could be conceivably a fair, a different color, like red and then blue and then green and then orange like like bright, garish things are really good because they are different. And so then when you start adjusting him, you're gonna be able to play and make sure that the red comes up on the black goes down and it will be a much easier final edit for you to change the contrast of that photograph. So and you can think through it when you once you start shooting, then you'll realize, Oh, so if I have her wear a orange shirt and a blue jacket, then the orange is gonna kind of brighten up, and the and the blue is going to kind of get darker. And maybe you want to go the opposite direction. So she needs to wear a warmer jacket and a blue word blouse. Or if she's got really warm skin than maybe I want everything to be blue so that she strike, you know, comes out of the picture, all right, the other thing that you can do that we didn't do here necessarily. But you can also do this is think about the color of your lights. If I were to put a blue gel back there on those lights and a warm jell on orange jail here on these lights Now the color of the light is different. So now if I take the warm channels under the black and white and increase them and take the blue channels and decrease, um, then the lights in the back will dark and down, and the lights up front will lighten up. And so you you'll create color contrast between the different areas in your photograph as well. So you have the ability to throw some of your own lighting or your own colors into the photograph as well. Just buy based on what you put on the lights themselves. So just think color is your contrast underlying the black and white. It was very helpful. And then, of course, you want that texture. So, yeah, I think the hardest thing I have in black and white is if I have a bride who has white on and then she's very fair, like somebody whose freckled and with lighter skin, that's probably my hardest point and black and white. Okay, so when you're dealing with white, white, white, white, white, right, it's going to reflect off of itself, which is really, actually quite nice. But remember that because it's reflecting off of itself, you can actually do a much more dramatic portrait so you can bring stuff to the side. You can light them from the side, and because the dress is going to reflect off itself and her face is going to reflect on. It's much easier to soften that portrait up, right, So things that reach around just a little bit are going to kind of reflect off the brightness of that person. And so it's gonna actually allow you to make a very soft portrait very easily. And if you find that your when you're in that situation, it always just seems flat. Move that light to the side, and that's going to give you a much more dramatic light because you know what? You what, you What the problem is is that the dress itself starts to look flat because the folds in it, if you're lighting it too much from the front, they all reflect off each other, and they just fill in their own shadows, so you have to take the light off to the side. So here's the light. Here's the camera. Take the light off to the side more dramatically, and then it will create harder shadows, which will still be fairly soft because all white, especially if you're in a white room or a room that has lots of white walls and whatever, it's just gonna bounce around in there. But something with. I used to do an assignment when I did a class in college, and it was I did. Ah, um, the zone system Ansel Adams own system for for film photographers and I used to make them do a set of portrait's or not portrait's but set of photographs. And there's a really cool assignment, so you might want to take it on. Do a shot that has everything below middle gray. No white, no white. The shot can't have any white in it whatsoever. Even the slightest hint of white can't be in a even a flak of white. It's really hard to do, but it helps you to start seeing those zones. It helps you to start seeing black and dark gray right, and then do another one that's Onley middle gray so it doesn't have any. Black doesn't have any white. It's just graze. Those are really beautiful images. And then do one that's all white, no black, no gray, just variations on white gorgeous images. So don't be afraid of something that's just white and white and bright, and just give it some some texture or some some volume. By moving that light to the side, but then let it all stay nice and light. Don't worry about trying to create blacks, right, because it's beautiful when it's bright and airy, too. Some another one from online. So this one comes from Ah, hab Abdel Aziz, who says, Do you consider the backdrop differently for color and black and white portrait? So maybe you could talk a little bit about the backdrop that we used here. Yeah, so in our case we had the textured wall, and so because it was already there, there's no reason to change it because it's actually quite cool. But remember, I changed the lighting on it, and that changed the way the backdrop looked. So because I went close to the wall with a light source that was very small and very directional, it created texture to the backdrop. If you have, like a just kind of a standard backdrop that you're throwing up, then I would consider what is the color of the backdrop in comparison to the color of the person or the outfit that's in front of it. So, like, for instance, if you're going to photograph someone who is very, very fair skinned and then you put them in front of an absolutely black backdrop. They're really gonna pop, so there's gonna be a huge contrast there. And maybe you don't want that. Maybe you dio, But just keep that in mind. Maybe it would be better to shoot someone who's got really fair skin in front of a grey backdrop. But if I photographed someone who's got fairly, you know, darker skin, like if I photograph you in front of a grey backdrop, then the gray backdrop is gonna be the thing that's brighter, right? And so then my attention might actually go back to the backdrop instead of to you. So it's better to have a jet black backdrop so that then you kind of come out of the darkness, so to speak. You know, I mean, and so you think about that. Think about the totality of the person and their clothing and then put the backdrop that allows them to come forward from it. Usually you want the lighter. The lighter thing is what calls our attention. So we always look to the thing that's brightest in the photograph. It's just kind of our nature. And so remember that when you're putting someone in front of something, you're gonna put a lot of white behind them. Sometimes you get distracted by all that white or that brightness so often times a black and white portrait is better when they come out of that darkness. Unless you're doing like, all white, white, white, white, white, white, white, then it actually works really well, cause it's all kind of gels together.