October 27, 2016 at 5:20PM


Black and white

I've heard that shooting in black and white is a sign of someone trying too hard to be artistic but I've seen some pretty good stuff shot in black and white that contradicts that statement. So when is a good time to use black and white? And if i were to use it would i have to change how i light my scene or the colour palette of my characters?


You don't see the colour of your actors and everything else but different colours have different colourbrightnesses. F. e. yellow is brighter than blue and so on.

B/W is mostly used if the scene should be more dramatic because contrast is shown more clearly.

Film noir of course is the B/W genre.

If you need a effect that shows something with colours. If a protagonist has some special affiliation to (one) colour. And on and on.

It's mostly used as a piece of creative choice. That thought of it as something that makes you "over artistic" was created by the fact, that photos until the 60s have bin B/W. And there has been a lot of experimental and artistic photography as well.
If we look at photos of this area today it's either some person's portrait, a historical image or some artistic/experimental photo.

October 28, 2016 at 12:22AM

Eric Halbherr
Director, DP, Editor, Creative Storyteller

I think black & white can be good when done for a purpose. Most people do it to fake artistic vision or to fake a retro look, which can be cool but more often than not looks cheesy. I've shot a few things in B&W, like a Super-8 horror film, a 16mm Western or parts of music videos but most stuff I do is color simply because I haven't needed the effect.
How colors render depend a lot on how you're shooting. Black & white film is a little more sensitive to blue than say red, so skies tend to look a little too light. One way around that is to use a yellow filter on the lens, which blocks some blue and darkens the sky. If you're shooting on video with a built-in B&W mode, your guess is as good as anybody's because you have no way of knowing how the software engineers set up the camera without doing some extensive testing first. Another thing you can do is shoot in color, white balance normally and convert to B&W after the fact.

As for lighting, you can work normally. Just remember that you won't have colors to help separate objects from one another, so it's common to underexpose the background slightly and perhaps use a harder (but not necessarily brighter) back-light.

Side note; there used to be a B&W film that ONLY responded to blue. Red and yellow rendered darker than black while blue showed as white, which is why so many people with blue eyes look strange in old photos. That was the secret to the invention of blue screen techniques. They would bipack blue-sensitive film with panchromatic film and light the actors with yellow light. Only the screen showed on the blue-sensitive film with black where the actors were.

October 28, 2016 at 9:07AM, Edited October 28, 9:17AM


Here's an incredible reel of B&W nature videography: https://vimeo.com/90373546

Spoiler alert: it switches to color at the end, which is super-dramatic. But the B&W footage is gorgeous, and in no way looks like it's trying too hard.

October 30, 2016 at 6:47AM


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