Lock your iPhone's camera into black and white

bw instagram filter monochrome

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I enjoy browsing Instagram and shooting photos for my account far more than any sane person reasonably should. No, its filters don’t make a bad image good, but there’s a certain fun and artistry in shooting the square format and playing with post-production. Sadly, that fun doesn’t translate over to black and white photography—Instagram’s lacked a good monochrome filter for awhile now, since Gotham’s disappearance back in version 2.0.

Now, there are plenty of third-party apps to play with if you’re jonesing for a black and white fix, but I like to roll with the iPhone’s very own Camera app: The iOS 7 update added nine filters to the program, including a lovely monochrome one called Noir. You can switch over at any time while in the Photo or Square modes of the Camera app by tapping the filters icon (the Venn diagram of circles in the lower right corner of the screen), then selecting the filter you’d like to use.

bw instagram shoot square

You can also apply a monochrome look to your images after the fact: In your Camera Roll, tap the Edit button, then tap the filters icon and select the one that pleases you.

“But wait,” you say. “I like black and white as much as the next person, but I don’t want to waste time switching to a filter and lose my perfect shot. Nor,” you add, “do I want to mess around in my Camera Roll after the fact.”

Well, good news: You can make your Camera app shoot in black and white (or any other filter) all of the time with just one simple step. Because the Camera app has two modes—Photo, which shoots a full-sized version of the scene; and Square, which crops your photo to the aforementioned shape—you can enable the filter for whichever mode you’d like to primarily take black and white photos in. For me, that’s the Square mode.

Turn on the appropriate filter in Square mode, then switch back to Photo mode. You’ll now get an unfiltered image in Photo, and a filtered one in Square mode whenever you open the Camera—even if you force quit the Camera app. (The filter will disappear upon restart; you can also always disable it from the filters icon, too.) And most importantly, of course: Those square images are perfectly sized and framed for posting to Instagram.

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