I was at a room in this five-star hotel and sipping coffee in a corner table by the window. At the back of my chair was a tall lampshade and when I looked up, lo and behold – shapes, lines, light! I was looking straight at the inside of the lampshade from below. I guess it’s already instinct as my left hand reached over my belt pouch for the camera. I composed with the circle dead center in the frame and took a shot. I took two other shots, one with the circle on the left and the other on the right side of the frame, all the while with my head tilted on the chair’s head rest (an awkward pain-inducing position for the nape, hence three takes were enough). As always I shot in color, but I was picturing the scene in monochrome. With distinct lines, angles and geometric shapes and light peering through the partially opened curtain, I knew this would be a keeper in black and white. Experience and practice teach us how to spot subjects that would work well in the classic medium. In our head, it’s almost an automated process, a routine thought, a programmed visualization, a photographer’s gift of “seeing.”
Take Shapes into Consideration
Since black and white pictures lack color, they are dependent largely on lines and shapes to create interest. Try to incorporate a variety of shapes that create different types of lines such as curving lines, crooked lines, or slanting lines. Stark straight lines can also have dramatic effects in black and white photos.
Mind Your Perspective
Perspective can create some very interesting effects, especially in black and white photography. Perspective can bring alive a standard subject, it can suggest depth and mystery in everyday objects, and, in fact, you can make a picture tell a story just by using an unusual angle while photographing a scene in black and white.
Take Care of the Background
While taking black and white photos you need to make sure that the subject does not get lost in the background. Often, just by shifting your subject a little to the left or right can help in eliminating unwanted elements in your photograph. Or you could try to take the picture from another angle.
Texture can add interest and definition to black and white photos. For example, a black and white picture of a roughly textured wall will certainly look more interesting than a smooth wall, or a road made of cobblestones will look more dramatic than a smooth one.
~Rita Putatunda from her article Tips for Shooting Black and White Photos