Toning

Adding a coloured tone to black and white pictures to add depth or atmosphere. The most famous is sepia toning, so often used for Victorian portraits. These days most people simulate toning effects digitally using colour controls and effects filters.

Split toning

A more complex type of toning where two colours are used not one – shadows are tinted with one tone and highlights with another. The results can be very effective, though it’s not always easy to find good-looking toning combinations and split toning doesn’t work with all images.

Sepia toning

An old black and white darkroom technique that turns regular black and white prints a vintage brown. It also adds depth and richness to monochrome images. These days it’s an effect that’s easy to create digitally and is just one of a number of popular toning effects.

Selective colour

A special effect which converts the whole image into black and white except for one specific colour range. One the the most common examples is a black and white image with a bright red subject – the girl in the red coat in the film ’Schindler’s List’, for example.

Red filter

Used in black and white photography to darken blue skies and lighten skintones and foliage. It can produce dramatic, high-contrast images.

Dodging and burning

Classic black and white technique where certain areas of a print are held back (dodged) under the enlarger to make them lighter and others are given extra exposure (burning in) to make them darker. The terms are still used to describe the way images can be improved digitally.

Contrast filter

A colour filter used in black and white photography to change the shade of grey that colours are reproduced as. They’re called ‘contrast’ filters because they can change the contrast (in shades of grey) between different colours.

Burn Edges

A tool in Silver Efex Pro for darkening the top, bottom, left or right sides of a photo, or any combination of these. You can use it at the top to simulate a graduated neutral density filter or on all four edges for a controllable vignette effect.

Black and white filters

It does seem a bit crazy that black and white photographers use coloured filters, but there is a reason for this. When you shoot in black and white, the camera or the film is converting different colours into shades of grey. When you use a coloured filter, you’re shifting and changing the brightness of the different colours in the scene, and this changes their shade of grey in the photograph. This is why they’re sometimes called ‘contrast’ filters too. For example, a red filter allows red light through but blocks light of other colours. Anything red in the scene becomes proportionally much brighter, anything opposite to red, like a blue sky, comes out a much darker shade of grey – nearly black, sometimes.

Black and white

Technically, black and white should be ‘less’ than colour, but its popularity is, if anything increasing. Black and white suits some subjects extremely well, drawing more attention to shapes, lighting and composition than is generally possible with colour photography. Most cameras have black and white picture modes, which is very useful when you’re composing images, but you get more control over the results by converting colour images to black and white on a computer later, so it’s a bit of a dilemma which route to take.