Trevor McCall-Peat - Wildlife Photography - Wild Eye

Converting To Black and White

Trevor McCall-Peat All Authors, Trevor 2 Comments

Do you struggle to decide when to convert an image from colour to black and white? Or even struggle with why would you even want to in the first place?

In this blog, I’m going to tackle this very topic and walk you through my own way of thinking when I approach each image.

What we have to understand, is that not any image can be converted into black and white. Wait, let me rephrase that, you can convert any image but not every image will give you the desired result.

There are a number of reasons when I look at an image that tell me a black and white conversion is a possibility.

They are as follows:

  • Contrast
  • Harsh light/image is slightly over exposed
  • Big skies with lots of cloud
  • Textures and patterns
  • Colour

When it comes to contrasting images, they can sometimes look a little odd or they don’t quite look right in color. You could always process the image and eventually get something that is a bit more pleasing to the key in color but, it is also a good opportunity to try a coversion into black and white. What I find, is that it often makes the image pop, adding that ‘X’ factor. The degree of contrast will determine how the conversion will come out. When a subject is dark and the background is light, it allows for a brighter image which then essentially brings your subject out. In the opposite scenario what you will find is that by darkening or playing with the individual colors it will more often than not bring out the textures or patterns on your subject creating a very detailed feel.

Trevor McCall-Peat - Wildlife Photography - Wild Eye

Trevor McCall-Peat - Wildlife Photography - Wild Eye

With wildlife photography there are so many elements that are out of our control, from light to animal behavior. Talking about animal behavior, one can often get lost in the moment, especially when there is lots of action happening, this can lead to us just shooting away and not really realizing or making the necessary changes to our settings in order to capture the array of photographs in the moment. So having said that, you find yourself a bit frustrated and disappointed as you have not quite got the shot you wanted because you didn’t make the adjustments in the heat of the moment.




You should never get irritated with yourself in situations like this as it happens to many of us and is a learning curve for the next time you find yourself in a similar position. In terms of the images you had taken, there is always a way and as I mentioned it may just be as simple as converting it in to black and white and the images suddenly pops.

Trevor McCall-Peat - Wildlife Photography - Wild Eye

Black and white images LOVE big skies especially dramatic ones at that. Big open spaces with a blanket of clouds creates a very moody feel to an image, think animals in the foreground, wide open spaces and a mysterious and cloudy sky? Yes, it would most likely be a great color image but convert it to black and white and see the difference it makes to the overall setting of the image.

Trevor McCall-Peat - Wildlife Photography - Wild Eye

I am an individual that loves detailed shots, especially with the longer lenses where you can get close up shots it allows you to capture the textures or patterns of your subject such as, a leopards coat, the texture of an elephants skin or a nice sharpe close up of your subjects face. Black and white love textures especially when the subject has a relatively dull or dark coat/skin to begin with.

Trevor McCall-Peat - Wildlife Photography - Wild Eye

Finally, Being able to work the individual colors in an image adds huge value to your final image. I feel it is something that is often over looked or forgotten and is a game changer when it comes to editing any image whether it be color or black and white.

Often we convert a color image which were were not quite happy with into black and white and although it makes an improvement, there is still something missing. By using these color sliders it allows us the ability to manipulate each individual color, which enables us to decrease or increase the intensity and mood of the image.

In the Image below, I used the individual colors to darken different elements which in turn really highlighted the leopard and draws the viewers attention to the action.

Trevor McCall-Peat - Wildlife Photography - Wild Eye

I hope you all find this blog useful, play around with it and I would love to hear about the results you managed to get.

Until next time,


About the Author

Trevor McCall-Peat

Having Grown up in White River which then was a small town in the Lowveld, I have had an inner burning desire to pursue my passion and love for wildlife. From a young age I was guided by my family who shares the same passion for the natural world as I do. Frequently visiting wilderness areas from a young age instilled a deep craving to explore and learn more about the bush. Once I left school I began my journey to becoming a guide and following my dream. I have been a field guide for the past 9 years, starting out in the Western Cape and then returning to the lowveld where I spent my last 4 years spend at Londolozi Game Reserve where I gained invaluable experience and had the opportunity to learn about myself as an individual. Through my love for wildlife it has kick started my passion for photography and has allowed me to grow and pursue it as a career. Combining an array of different elements such as safaris, photography, being one with nature and sharing experiences with others is something I have really enjoyed doing and looking forward to continuing it on this new and exciting chapter.

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Comments 2

    1. Post
      Trevor McCall-Peat

      Hello Jen, Thank you for the comment and I hope this blog helps you going forward.
      Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

      All the best

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