Still Life In Black And White

By | 06/08/2022

Black and white nonetheless life photographs are cute in their simplicity. All the same life photography is all most inanimate subjects. Y’all can photograph food, flowers, ornaments, toys. Anything that doesn’t move.

Read on for my superlative 5 tips to become the almost out of your black and white still life photography.

Black and white close up image of a rose
Photo by Jack Hawley from Pexels

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i. Larn to Think in Black and White

Planning and researching a black and white still life photo shoot is essential. The process requires a bit of brain re-wiring. That style, you’ll ‘think’ in blackness and white and choose the right objects, lighting, and story for your photo.

Check out work by famous still life photographers to help with this. Grand masters such equally Edward Weston and Karl Blossfeldt were pioneers of photography. They created unique works of art in black and white from everyday objects.

Give yourself time and space. Create a rough sketch about the way y’all desire your photo to look.

What are the first features of the object that catch your centre? Brand notes of the lines, textures, or tones you want to emphasise.

A black and white still life photo of a Blossfeldt-inspired Centaurea Cineraria
My Blossfeldt-inspired Centaurea Cineraria. f/viii, ane/8sec, ISO100. © Heather Milne

ii. Enhance Textures and Shapes With Lighting

Without colour getting in the way, you can play to the great strengths of black and white – texture and shape. Look to see where lines intersect and how lite accentuates different textures.

Think almost this throughout the black and white all the same life photography process. From selecting your subject thing and photographing information technology, to post-production and presentation.

I prefer to utilize depression key lighting with either natural light from a window (on a cloudy day), or a soft sidelight. I often experiment with and without a reflector. So I review the photographs in post-product. That way, I can see which version works best for texture and shape.

Motility your subject around and run across how it catches the calorie-free from dissimilar angles. Sometimes a subtle motility of half a centimetre can make a large difference.

Black and white withal life photography can oft experience quite physical. Y’all’re moving back and forth from the camera to the subject thing!

A black and white still life of a brussels sprout.
My take on a Brussels Sprout. f/7.i, i/2 sec, ISO 100. © Heather Milne

3. Turn Simple Objects Into Art With B&Westward Photography

Yous’re making a photo without people or motion. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t tell a story. Consider shapes of leaves at different stages of their life cycle. And how grey tones can convey emotion into the photo.

Black and white photos of flowers reveal the true beauty of their lines and shapes. Black and white flower photography is a corking starting signal for monochromatic withal life photography.

The style and texture of a weathered shoe in black and white tell usa most their owner. Even without a man in the photograph.

Antique objects look beautiful in black and white photographs. And you lot tin can enhance their story by using warm or sepia monochrome tones.

Expect around your home or garden. See what subjects you tin find that tell a personal story. Fifty-fifty the virtually mundane object can go a piece of work of fine art. All it needs is the right texture and shape with careful lighting and mail-production.

Have a go at some of these black and white however life photography ideas:

  • Jewellery from an elderly relative;
  • Your favourite children’south books;
  • Coffee;
  • The beautiful but slippery flowers that driblet on your garden path;
  • An erstwhile (or new!) camera;
  • Bunches of herbs or weeds;
  • Your favourite food;
  • Shells and driftwood from your last beach walk.
A black and white food photography shot of baked beans and bread on a wooden tray
© Heather Milne

4. Use Elementary Compositions to Brand B&W Even so Life Photos Stand up Out

Black and white photography is all about shapes, lines, and textures. It’s of import to use a very clear and simple composition that doesn’t distract from these elements.

With yet life photography, I tend to be a stickler for the rules of thirds and odds. And the golden triangle and ratio.

If you lot’re uncertain of your composition, remove something from the frame. Or take a step back to include more negative space.

A black and white food still life shot of vegetables
© Heather Milne

5. Use the Color Sliders to Enhance Black and White Withal Life Photos

When information technology comes to black and white however life photography, clicking the shutter is only part of the process. Fine-tuning images in post-production is the important concluding step.

Clarity adjustment, dodging and burning, and spot removal are standard techniques to tidy upward your photo in Lightroom or Camera Raw. Merely the tool I apply about with my black and white still life photographs is the HSL (hue, saturation, luminance) colour slider.

Moving individual sliders up or down gives you great control of light and shadows. It can transform your photograph past defining textures and shapes and even changing the focal point.

Adjust Blacks, Whites, and all the Greys In-Between

Similar most blackness and white photography, information technology’s important to include ‘true blackness’ and ‘true white’. Plus a full range of greys.

Adjusting the HSL sliders is an easy way to lighten or darken parts of a photo. And you lot’re doing this without over-using the dodge and burn tools.

Still life photographs can be quite circuitous. Get familiar with zooming in and out of your image (ctrl, +/- or cmd, +/-) to bank check the blackness, white, and greyness tones. Brand sure they work together in harmony.
A screenshot of adjusting the HSL sliders on Lightroom

Accommodate Colour Sliders to Alter the Mood

Moving the HSL colour sliders can change the mood of a photo. Practice you desire to tell a story about the strength, clarity, and bold qualities of a flower in blackness and white? Try adjusting the sliders to show contrast and definition.

For a more subtle approach that portrays a flower’due south fragility, endeavor softer greys and less contrast.

There’southward no ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ with this method, and it can exist quite a subjective arroyo. Endeavor dissimilar versions and review them with fresh eyes the adjacent 24-hour interval.

If in uncertainty, less is always more than!

A black and white close up of garlic flowers
Garlic flowers converted to black and white, with no aligning of HSL colour sliders. © Heather Milne
Garlic flowers with green, yellow, and orange HSL colour sliders adjusted.
Garlic flowers with green, yellowish, and orange HSL colour sliders adjusted. © Heather Milne


Photographing still life in black and white provides peachy creative opportunities. I’one thousand ever surprised at the beauty of a withal life scene when the colour is removed.

Continue it simple; start with objects you’re familiar with. Experiment with whatever light and equipment you have on-hand.

Push the boundaries with your black and white however life photography, and don’t be afraid to get a flake arty!

Next, why not check out this great commodity on black and white landscape photography!

Don’t miss out on our Creative Photography Cookbook for awesome still life ideas!