We don't often think about taking black and white photos with our cell phones. However, I feel there is still a place for beautiful, dramatic monochromatic photography in our digital worlds. In addition to being attractive on their own, black and white animal photos add interest to your Facebook, Instagram and other feeds. Here is a collection of pet photos in black and white I took on my iPhone with some useful tips.
Step 1: Black and White Images
There are two basic ways to get black and white pictures from your cell phone. First you can set your camera to black and white in the photo options. On my iPhone I do this by tapping the 3 color dots on the right. This gives me 3 black and white options. Just select the one you like best and shoot your photo.
The second way is to shoot a photo with the regular color photo setting and use a black and white filter. I prefer this option for the following reasons:
- It takes longer to set up the black and white photo unless you leave your camera set to black and white all the time. This is important for animal photos because they don't always stay put very long. When shooting creatures, faster is better.
- It's hard to see what the final photo will look like in the tiny preview when deciding which black and white setting to use. Going back and forth between settings can cost you valuable time.
- Adjusting your photo with an app like Snapseed to make it black and white gives you a lot of flexibility.
- You can take color photos with a cell camera in lower light then black and white. So there is less blurring with action and poor lighting.
The photos above were taken in color and then converted to black and white in Snapseed.
Tip: Don't zoom in to take a photo with your phone. Get close to your subject instead. Manual zoom : )
Step 2: Phone Option Examples
These are examples of my black dog and my stripy cat taken with my iPhone6 set to:
The noir is way too dark for my dark pets. The other settings aren't much better. Maybe if you have a white cat on a white couch...
Step 3: Remove the Color
There are many apps for altering photos, though my favorite for cell phone use is Snapseed. Snapseed is a great app for converting your photos to black and white. It's free and comes with lots of preset filters. It also allows you to make manual adjustments. Snapseed has versions for most phones.
- Open Snapseed
- Select a photo to convert
- Tap the pencil in the lower right corner
- Select Black & White in Filters (just scroll down)
- Choose one of the Black & White options that show up under your photo - you can preview each one by tapping on it
- You can refine the brightness, contrast, and grain with sliders (Touch the photo to bring up a menu. Slide up and down to select, swipe left and right to increase and decrease intensity.)
- When you like your photo click the check mark in the lower right
- Save when done (upper right)
Step 4: Other Options
If you're posting your creatures to Instagram, you may find the Instagram filters are all you need. (Altered photos will automatically save as a copy)
- Open Instagram and tap the camera (middle) button
- Select a photo
- Tap next (upper right)
- Select moon, willow or inkwell
Step 5: Have Fun!
Here are a few notes on making great black and white pet pictures:
~When you convert your photo to black and white, make sure you have enough contrast to see your subject.
~What is your background doing? A green tree and a brown dog may turn the same shade of grey. Make sure your background stays separate from your subject.
~Try adding texture to your photo with blankets your pet is likely to "pose" on. You can shoot some promising fabrics and see how they look in black and white before adding animals, which are much harder to control.
~Never underestimate the power of food. Bribe your pet to sit for a photo. This works for color and black and white. Though not as well with cats : )
~Add props. Black and white is great for being artsy. Try adding jewelry, scarves, driftwood and mirrors to your shots. This is easiest if fluffy is tired. Don't expect a huge amount of cooperation, so prepare before you're ready to shoot.
~Multiple pets? Great. Use whoever is easiest in the moment. Otherwise, go back to bribes.
~Avoid using the flash.
~Sunlight is awesome for black and white images. A photo that's washed out on one side can be very dramatic.
Enjoy the world of pseudo film noir by creating drama with black and white photos. Have fun and please share your pictures in the comments!