Photography: Black and White Photography

Black and white photography isn’t the sole reserve of artsy types and high-end galleries. Simon Thomas explains how a well-executed black and white image can bring a beautiful simplicity to your travel photos.

Fifty Shades of Grey 

You’ve heard the expression ‘less is more’. Well, in photography that is definitely the case. While full-colour shots are nice and all, you should definitely consider creating black and white images to help share your love of riding and travel. Let me tell you why and show you how. 

When many of us think of black and white photography, we often think of artsy, high-end photos. The one’s you see in magazines or museums. But black and white photos can be a powerful way to showcase your motorcycle or travel experiences. Today, almost all of us with a camera or a mobile phone can create stunning black and white images. 

Why, oh why? 

So, first things first, why would you create a black and white image? Well, maybe you want to create a simple yet stylish alternative to your regular shots. Or maybe you just want to experiment. Both are good reasons to shoot black and white. However, it’s important to recognise that, although colour can add something important to most images, in others it can just be a distraction. 

Less is more 

Work out what you want the viewer to really see when they look at your image. It might be the faintest of expressions in a portrait, or a road disappearing into the horizon. Then, decide whether having colour in that image really helps to tell the story. If it doesn’t, try creating that shot in black and white. 

The Mongolian steppe 

In this image, it’s the simple but powerful composition that makes it work. Two heavy adventure bikes, loaded with gear are about to set off across the Mongolian Steppe, photographed from an unusual angle. As a colour image, the bright blue sky in the shot simply detracted from the main focus, which is of course the two bikes. The dusty yellow ground didn’t add anything either, so creating it as a black and white photo made sense to me. 

There are more than a few ways to create a black and white image. If you scroll through your camera’s settings, you’ll find an option to shoot in B&W. Select that option and you’re good to go. 

The downside here is that you only have that black and white image and you cannot later choose to make it colour, should you need or want to. I typically shoot in colour and then use a photo-editing program to create my black and white image. I used Photoshop for years but eventually moved to my favourite editor Luminar, which is cheaper, far simpler to use, and very easy to learn. Want proof? Even my 81-year-old mother-in-law uses Luminar on her images. Download a trial at

How I created this black and white image 

I right-clicked the image file on my computer and from the drop-down menu I selected ‘Open in Luminar’. With the file opened and now in Luminar, I selected the ‘Tonality Film’ filter, which transforms any image to the exact look and feel of black and white analogue film types, complete with the right level of contrast and even grain in the image. It’s bloody clever stuff. 

You can see the before and after in the screengrab. I chose to use a filter that emulates traditional Fuji Film. 

With my filter selected I clicked ‘File’ and selected ‘Save As’ to save the final image to my hard drive. Yep, it was that simple. If you thought you had to be a tech-savvy pro to edit photos, then you need to take Luminar for a test spin. 

Have fun and make sure you share your results with us at