Enhancing Texture and Contrast in Black and White Images

  1. Night or black and white photography
  2. Post-processing tips for night and black and white photography
  3. Enhancing texture and contrast in black and white images

Black and white photography has long been a popular medium for capturing stunning images. From the hauntingly beautiful landscapes to the classic portrait of a person, the power of black and white photography lies in its ability to evoke emotion without relying on color. However, in order to truly capture the best possible image, it is important to understand the nuances of this unique form of photography, including how to enhance texture and contrast. In this article, we will explore different techniques to enhance texture and contrast in black and white images, giving your photos a unique and stunning look.

Using Curves

Curves are one of the most powerful post-processing tools for enhancing texture and contrast in black and white images.

By adjusting the curves sliders, you can make subtle changes to the tonal range of your image, which will have a dramatic impact on the final result. When it comes to adjusting curves for black and white photography, the goal is to bring out the texture and contrast in the photo. To achieve this, you'll want to adjust the curves sliders so that they create an S-shape curve. This will make the highlights brighter, the midtones darker, and the shadows brighter.

You can adjust each of these points individually to create the desired effect. To further enhance texture and contrast in your black and white photos, you can use the Levels tool to adjust the shadows, midtones, and highlights separately. This will allow you to tweak the tonal range of your photo without affecting the overall contrast. Finally, you can use selective editing tools such as brushes and gradient masks to further enhance texture and contrast in specific areas of your photo.

By using these tools, you can make targeted adjustments to certain areas of your image without affecting the rest of it.

Shooting for Texture and Contrast

In order to get the most out of your black and white photos, it is important to set your camera up correctly before shooting. To maximize texture and contrast in your images, be sure to pay attention to lighting, exposure settings, white balance, and other camera settings. Lighting is essential for creating contrast in your black and white photos. Strong directional lighting will create harsh shadows and highlights, which can create a dramatic effect in your images.

However, too much contrast can be distracting, so take care to make sure that the light is even and not too strong. Exposure settings are also important for texture and contrast in black and white photography. A high shutter speed will help you capture crisp details, while a low ISO will reduce digital noise. You should also make sure that the aperture setting is appropriate for the scene you are shooting.

White balance should also be adjusted for black and white photography. Setting the white balance to a higher temperature will give your photos a warmer tone, while a lower temperature will give them a cooler tone. Other camera settings such as contrast and sharpness can also be adjusted to enhance texture and contrast in your black and white photos. Experiment with these settings until you find the best combination for your images.

Local Adjustments

Local adjustments are an essential tool for enhancing texture and contrast in black and white images. By selectively lightening or darkening parts of an image, photographers can emphasize certain features, draw attention to details, and create a more impactful overall image. To make local adjustments, you can use the dodge and burn tools in your photo editing software. This allows you to selectively adjust the brightness of specific areas in your image. It's important to use a soft, feathered brush when making these adjustments, as harsh edges can ruin the effect. You can also use curves or levels adjustments to make localized changes.

With curves, you can make subtle tweaks to a specific area of your image by selecting the part of the curve that corresponds to that area. With levels, you can adjust the brightness of a particular color range in your image. Finally, you can also use masks and selection tools to make local adjustments. With masks, you can select specific areas of your image and make adjustments without affecting the rest of the image. Selection tools allow you to select a portion of your image and then apply adjustments to that area only. By using local adjustments, you can enhance texture and contrast in black and white images.

You can emphasize certain features and create an impactful overall image.


Toning is an essential post-processing step for enhancing texture and contrast in black and white images. It involves adding color to a black and white image, creating unique and interesting artistic effects. By toning the image, you can draw attention to certain areas of the photo, enhance texture and contrast, and convey a certain mood or emotion. Toning is one of the most powerful tools in post-processing.

It gives you the ability to add a hint of color or to completely transform the look of your image. There are a variety of toning techniques available, including split toning, tinting, and colorizing. Each technique produces different results and can help you to achieve a desired effect. Split toning is a great way to enhance texture and contrast in an image.

It involves applying two different colors to the highlights and shadows in your image. This technique can create striking contrasts and bring out texture in your image. You can use split toning to give your image a vintage feel or to create a unique color palette. Tinting is another post-processing technique for enhancing texture and contrast in black and white photos.

It involves adding a single color to your image, either to the highlights or shadows. This technique can help you to create a subtle color palette or emphasize certain areas of the photo. Tinting can also be used to add a hint of color to an otherwise black and white image. Colorizing is a more advanced post-processing technique that involves adding multiple colors to an image.

This technique can help you to create vivid images with intense colors and contrast. Colorizing also gives you the ability to transform your black and white image into something more vibrant. By using these different toning techniques, you can make the most of your black and white photos. Enhancing texture and contrast is key to creating impactful images in black and white, and toning is one of the best ways to do this.

Experiment with different techniques to find the look that best suits your images. By combining shooting techniques with post-processing tools, you can create beautiful black and white images with enhanced texture and contrast. Experiment with different techniques such as shooting for texture and contrast, using curves, local adjustments and toning until you find the look that works best for you. With a little bit of practice, you can take your black and white photography to the next level and create stunning images that capture the emotion of the scene.

Jillian White
Jillian White

Photographer & Blogger. Beer enthusiast. Hipster-friendly vegan bacon specialist. Professional coffee lover. Wannabe food evangelist.