Wedding in Black & White

Black and White Photography – Give it a try

I attended my niece’s wedding a few weeks ago where I shot some pictures with my Canon 5D Mk II and the Canon 24-105 L f/4.0 IS lens.  So to prepare a bit, I checked out some of the on-line forums for professional wedding photographers and noticed that black and white (B&W) photos were usually part of their portfolios and they looked really cool.   So, I thought I would give it a try.

Besides, all I show on my blog is pictures of bugs, birds, and critters.  I never had the courage to take pictures of people but I knew that I would be blasting down the beers at this wedding so no better place than there to experiment.  Beers give you courage… no doubt about it.

Secret Tricks to Great People Photography

Well the first trick is to drink a few bottles of courage of course.  With a bunch of beers in ya, you can go right up to them, interrupt whatever they were doing, and jam your camera into their faces with total abandon.  Yeeha, snap away!

But a lesser known but very powerful way of making great people pictures is to just photograph good looking people.  People like looking at folks who are better looking than they are.  Trouble is, what if your family was hit by the ugly stick?  What if your ancestors evolved from the shallow end of that gene pool?  Well you just have to crash someone else’s wedding, cookout, party, or whatever.  I was fortunate in that I was switched at birth and my accidental nieces and nephews are pretty darn good looking.

The gals, guy, and little guy in these pictures are all siblings.  Yikes!  Way too big of a family for me as it takes away good beer money to pay for things like shoes and Cheerios.

Make Nice With the Pro

Early on, I introduced myself to the pro and quite simply asked him if he minded if I took some shots.  I then said something like “just tell me to get out of the way if I am bothering you”.  It seemed to work as he never gave me a dirty look although I did try very hard to stay out of his way.  I did offer him a few “peace beers” so that may have warmed relations a bit.

B&W From Color

What is cool about shooting RAW as I do, is that I can have great fun in software fixing the awful messes I made when I took the pictures.  And, you can turn any color photo into black and white with one click in your software tool.  Click!  Bob’s your uncle!  B&W!  I use LightRoom 4 but most software tools have this very common feature.

Of course, it is not that simple and for some reason, just clicking the B&W button results in a flat, poorly exposed picture (i.e., low contrast and very grey).  So you gotta work at it a bit in software to make it look great.  For that, I recommend you read up on someone else’s blog who knows what they are doing.  The pics here were my amateur attempt at it.  I can tell you that, in general, I had to do the following:

  • Bump up the exposure a bit
  • Increase contrast
  • Increase blacks (make them blacks blacker)
  • Using a local brush, lighten eyes and cheek shadows (sometimes the folks looked liked raccoons)

For a few pics, I tried using LightRoom’s  cool tools such as adding a bit of grain and creating darkened corners, an approach called vingetting.  LightRoom also gives you a few more tools to improve B&W but all in all, you are just going to have to screw around with it and learn yourself.

Here are a few before and afters for comparison:


Location Types: Event. Galleries: Black & White, People, and Wedding. Tags: 24-105 f/4.0, 5D Mk II, and Black & White.

2 Responses to “Wedding in Black & White”

  1. jamie September 23, 2012 10:05 pm #

    Sweetwater Beer… always necessary 🙂 Always enjoy looking at your pics and my beautiful sister.

  2. Breanna September 23, 2012 10:36 pm #

    Great shots! You always seem to capture the moment.