Choosing photos to print in black and white

Image source: Elaine Ling

Welcome back to the PFF blog. On today’s episode, we will be talking about when you should choose black and white prints over coloured prints.

When should you opt to choose black and white over colour prints?

When colour isn’t a strength but instead a distraction

The colours present in the image may distract the original intention of the image or the colours don’t work well together then you should choose black and white. This will allow the viewer to look at the entire frame instead of focusing on the distracting colours/object

When there are certain emotions you want to portray


By printing an image in black and white, you can bring out certain emotions.

Image source: John

The black and white image of the elderly couple highlights that love is eternal and everlasting.



Image source: Ronald by Robert K Baggs

Here a black and white image brings out the man’s imperfections, highlighting some of his key facial features such as his wrinkles which can be used to tell the hardships this man has been through in life.

Lines, shapes and patterns

Image source:

By using black and white in architecture images, it allows the viewer to focus on the architecture. Hence, if your intention is for the architecture to be the star of the photo, do print in black and white.

This is also applicable when the objective of the image is to focus on the shapes and patterns and not the surroundings. Print the image in black and white to fully bring out the glory of the shapes and patterns.

Editing black and white prints

Using filters

Polarizer Filter

Image source:

The polarizer filter used in the image above can help darken the sky and allow the shapes of the stones to be the star of the picture.

Natural Density filter

Image source:

The natural density filter allows you to capture the movement in the image instead of the image being frozen. For example, the mist is generated by the moving water. Without this filter, the mist will not be visible.

Contrast will help you

Image source:

Adding contrast to just the right amount will allow the shapes/architecture in the photo to be the star of it. However, do take note that you should not add excessive amounts of contrast.

Flat Light

Image source:

During your winter holidays, you may have taken some beautiful images. However, the lighting of the image isn’t great due to the presence of fog poor lighting. By removing colour from the image, the image can still be salvaged and in fact, it may turn out to be even more beautiful in black and white.

Levels and curves

Levels and curves help the white points in the image become clearer and the dark points become clearer.

Image source: Mark Jenkins

Here the white and dark points became clearer, bringing out the true beauty of the moon.

You should use levels when you want to adjust the global contrast by altering the black and white endpoints.

You should use curves when you want to have full control of your tonal editing. For example, controlling the amount of red light in an image and the amount of blue light in an image.

For levels and curves, you will require photoshop.

We have found some useful links you guys can use for levels and curves.

For levels:

For curves:

With that, we have come to the end of today’s post. We hope that have a better understanding of deciding what prints are best suited for black and white.