Why and How: Creating Wildlife Photographs in Black and White – Part 3

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Photograph of a purple heron in black and white in la Dombes in France. Photograph by Amar Guillen, photographer artist.
Bird photograph is also good for black and white. It is the case of that purple heron in La Dombes in France.

How Creating Wildlife Photographs in Black and White? (The End)

  • Cloudy skies are precious allies.

    Never forget that clouds are the language of the sky. When developing your photos on the computer, you must take special care with the clouds because they give depth to your photos.

    The main thing in black and white wildlife photography is the main subject. As the black and white is an interpretation of the scene you see, nothing prevents you to convey emotions messages. The clouds are there to help you.

    However, you will need to be careful in how you use them. They must help to highlight the animals. They are not the main photographic elements.
  • You can also use the patterns of a scene to highlight the animals. The patterns are based on repetition. In black and white they are a precious ally. These patterns can be trees, leaves on the ground, pebbles. The idea is to cover an area of the photo with patterns to guide the viewer's eye to the animal.
  • When you create an animal photograph whether it is in black and white or not, you must always respect the fundamental rule of the line of sight.

    If you photograph above the line of sight, the viewer will have the impression that the meeting is artificial.

    In addition, you create a power relationship between you and the animal. If the look of the animal is below yours, you create a sense of domination. This is not what you want to show in wildlife photos.

    All like me, you certainly want to create a sense of respect.

    Of course, for birds in flight, you will have trouble photographing them at eye level. But in this case, another creative technique will be used.
  • I also advise you to use the silhouette technique in black and white wildlife photography. In the gallery of images associated with this article, there are several examples. The silhouette is very symbolic because it is very evocative. It can express departure, the unspoken, discretion.

    To have the best possible photography effect, the ideal is to use the backlight technique. It allows you to highlight the shapes of the animals.
  • Also in this paragraph devoted to how to create wildlife photos in black and white, I remind you that if you use this creative technique, you must especially take into account the shadows, highlights and mid tones. When you are in the field, ignore the colors and their saturation. As I explained in another article, color saturation has no impact on a photo.
  • When creating animal pictures in black and white you tell identical stories that you would tell in color but using different language. Black and white and is more emotional, more sentimental.
  • As I said in a previous paragraph, the creation of a black and white photo begins before the session, continues in the field, materializes during the development phase and ends with printing on paper.

    For the development phase you will have the choice between many software. My goal in this article is not to tell you which are the best and how to use them because in a year from now everything will have changed.

    But just remember the following points.

    Do not desaturate your photos to get them in black and white.

    Use color adjustment to get the best rendering.

    Use the doge and burn technique. It allows to make selective adjustments. Use the curves to adjust the different tones.
  • The classic animal portrait is also an excellent technique for highlighting wild animals in black and white.

    In this case, I recommend the square framing. It is perfectly suited because it reinforces the development of the animal. You leave little space for the environment and the negative space. In the gallery associated with this article, you will see some examples of animal portraits.
  • The last tip on how to take black and white wildlife photos is to always create strong compositions, choose the textures well, have dynamic perspectives and choose your light very well.


In this article, I have listed many reasons for you to create black and white wildlife photographs.

It is a technique that allows you to create photos that have impact, meaning and that are very interesting for expressing your emotions and transmitting your own messages.

When you go to the field to experience this technique, respect nature and animals, observe before taking your photos, take care of your compositions, consider perspectives, shapes and textures.

Now, you just have to practice.

Why would not you participate to one of my wildlife photo workshops to practice, hone your techniques and learn some new ones ?

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Article published on Friday, April 03, 2020 . Written by
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