Happy weekend everyone!
Because B&W images do not depend on colors for impact, black and white compositions are often better designed, and so your ability to compose may well improve by working in B&W!~William Neill
The decisions that the photographer must make are decisions that are made on the basis of feelings and emotions. Decisions that are aimed at expressing our emotional response to a scene, our perception of the subject we desire to photograph, and our personal artistic approach. All of these represent individual choices, choices that we are usually unaware of until we find ourselves in the act of capturing a specific subject with a lens and a camera. As such, this process prevents camera designers and software engineers to program either the hardware or the software to automatically express our response to the subject. They cannot program it any more than we can program it because both of us ignore what this response will be.
So what am I getting at in this explanation? I am getting at the fact that no matter how advanced and automaticized the equipment and the software we use becomes, there cannot be a substitute for individual input and expression.
What I am also getting at is the fact that the field of endeavor where this individual input is best expressed is the field of composition. Why? First, because composition is about personal choices: very few, if any, aspects of composition can be automaticized. Second, because composition is a field of endeavor composed of multiple facets and not just a set of rules. If it was just a set of rules it would be possible, theoretically, to think that these rules may be embedded in camera or computer software and that such software may have the ability to “compose” photographs on the basis of these rules, or the ability to give us directions aimed at helping us compose images in a specific way.
Sunsets are not meant for the black and white medium. I prefer sunsets and sunrises as they are meant to be – enjoyed in full, vivid colors such as the images posted during the whole sunset week. But as I said many times before, there is something about black and white images – the classic, clean lines and the play of tones, 256 shades of grays to be exact, plus pure white and pure black. There lies the challenge of sunsets in monochrome. Stripped of those fiery reds, vibrant orange and lucid yellows, what do you show? Show the shapes, silhouettes, forms and lines. Those are the elements you are left with, so highlight them. In the above picture, you are drawn to the scattering of rocks on the shore while at the bottom image the point of interest are those silhouettes of huts. The trained eye can spot these shapes, yet a keener eye which visualizes in black and white can foretell that the image will work without the distraction of color. I hope everyone enjoyed our sunset week. Till next week when we embark on another picture series. Have a great weekend my friends!
Without color the components of visual design become that much more important. Look at the lines in the image. Are they horizontal? Vertical? Diagonal? Do they form a pattern? Rhythm or repeating elements in a photo are interesting, with a break in the repetition being even more interesting. Also look at the texture, shapes, and forms in the image. Concentrating on these will take your mind off the color and enhance your ability to “see” and think in monochrome.
~Joel Wolfson from his article Digital Black and White Photography Tips and Techniques
Here’s a run-down of the most common elements that you should look for when identifying a suitable subject for the black-and-white treatment. Remember that these elements can be used individually, or even combined to produce marvellous mono images with clout.
1. Contrast, shape & form
One of the fundamental aspects of black and white photography is that your whole composition relies on contrast (for on composing images, see our 10 rules of photo composition – and why they work). For this reason, look out for subjects that feature simple, strong lines and shapes. It’s often the shadows that define shape and form, so pay attention to areas of darkness, as well as light.
Black and white photos actually include a whole range of greys, which add subtlety to your images. Normally, you look for subjects that will translate into a range of tones from black to white, but you can also get great results where the subject is mostly light (high-key) or dark (low-key).
3. Texture and detail
Fine detail, or strong textures such as weather-beaten stone, foliage or clouds, can help to give your black-and-white shots depth and interest. Strong side lighting is perfect for bringing out the texture in any subject. You can use strong natural light, or get creative with flash to create sidelighting on the subject.
4. Graphic composition
Black-and-white images need strong compositions to really work. Keep an eye out for strong lines or features in your scene that can be used as leading lines, or positioned diagonally across the frame to create dynamic images.
~Black and White Photography: What Every Photographer Should Know
In many ways shooting only colour can make you lazy and not pay as much attention to the shot as you could. My love of black and white makes my colour work better too.~Keith Cooper
These photos were taken earlier in the week during a local festival. People were in colorful, native attire. But that’s just it, I get color fatigue after featuring full vibrant pictures the whole week. If you’re new to this blog, I reserve weekends for monochrome, a respite from the magnificence of color and a return to the striking simplicity of black and white. Since these are festival images, expectedly they are filled with people and details rendering them almost a dissonance of forms, a disarray of shapes. Yet in black and white, one still finds order – a harmony of mood, expressions, movement and drama. No wonder black and white is the preferred medium for portraits, photojournalism, street and people photography. It cuts through the clutter and presents purity even with subjects in seeming disorder. It was father of Canadian photojournalism Ted Grant who said:
When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!
All the best to everyone! Keep on clicking!
Have you ever been out and about wandering through villages or fields, cities or towns and you can’t seem to find anything worth photographing … just “One of those days”! You will get them and it can be quite frustrating. You have made the effort to get your gear together, drive to a favourite spot but just can’t get the creative juices flowing!
As an experiment, the next time you are out on a mission, try to see things as they would appear in a black and white photograph. Black and white photography tends to add mood to a photo and by removing all traces of color, the onlooker’s eye is more attracted to your subject.
~See in Black and White Photography from All Things Photography
Outlines, forms, shadows, shapes, lines, light, tones, textures – these are the ingredients of black and white photography. Have fun with your imagery. Play with the elements and composition. Love the light. Bask in contrast. Experiment. Crop to exclude and emphasize. Discover. Assess with your eye. Process with your brain. Capture with your heart. With these, I can offer no other more meaningful tips when it comes to making monochrome images. With tools and knowledge, it all boils down to you – the creator and artist. After all, each picture is an individual mark of its maker.
1. Great B&W images tend to be simple, with their main components isolated and easy to identify.
2. Great B&W images tend to have depth and dimension – usually accomplished by creating visual layers that extend from the foreground to the background and all points in between.
3. Great B&W images rely on shape and/or form to make up the image. Hue and color distractions are gone. Only the shapes or forms made up by objects remain and can be arranged in such a manner that they draw the eye into or out of the photograph at the appropriate time and place.
4. Great B&W images tend to exploit contrast. The difference between the whitest white and the blackest black is the highest contrast point in the picture and this can be used to draw the viewer’s eye. Good contrast can help add depth and dimension as well.
5. Great B&W images rely on tone and texture to take the place of color and hue. This can be accomplished in many ways. Texture for instance can be enhanced with side lighting. Sometimes high ISOs are used to emulate film grain for more texture.
6. Great B&W images often rely on patterns to draw the eye into the subject of the photo. It helps form shapes and designate important elements in any B&W scene.
7. Great B&W images tend to minimize the background and accentuate the foreground. While this is not always true, if you look at the bulk of the work of some of the great old-time B&W masters, you’ll find this technique used in many of their images, particularly portraits.
~Scott Bourne from his article Seven Elements That Help Make A Great Black & White Photograph
For the youngsters amongst us, it may come as a surprise to hear that photography wasn’t always a technicolour experience. Black and white isn’t just an edit option in Photoshop, it’s where photography began and it remains an essential means of expression for many photographers. ~Simon Bray
It’s not your story, it belongs to your subject. You must never forget that.~Edmond Terakopian
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
What he was talking about was only one type of shooting: call it journalism, documentary photography, spot news photography, interpretative or environmental portraiture – even snapshooting.
Cartier-Bresson was talking about photography of the evanescent, of the here and now. The kind of photography that, in many ways, defines the entire craft, the entire art.
Most photography, but especially this kind, has a tenuous reputation for truth-telling largely because of the camera’s, if not always the photographer’s, ability to record events objectively. In fact photography is unique among the visual arts, not only because a photograph cannot be created from (sometimes clouded or prejudiced) memory, but because the subject of the photograph – and not really the photographer – determines absolutely what that depiction will be.
That is to say, Richard Avedon may trip the shutter when he makes a portrait, but the subject’s face and surroundings are what actually burn the image onto the film. Of course, Avedon brings hugely important elements into the equation as well: his talent for composition, for lighting, and of course, his sense of when his subject’s expression becomes, for Avedon, “the picture.”
~Fra nk Van Riper from his article Creating The Decisive Moment
A photographer must be prepared to catch and hold on to those elements which give distinction to the subject or lend it atmosphere.~Bill Brandt
In an age of digital photography, a lot of us appreciate the visual impact and elegance of black and white photography when juxtaposed with color photography. Black and White photography is not simply a result of old technology of a bygone era. Black and white is a technique that we can still employ today to enhance our photography. With black and white photography, we are allowed to see the world beyond colors. With black and white photography, we can control moods. With black and white photography, we can highlight details we normally would not see in color. Ultimately, with black and white photography, it is a technique that can enhance our ability to tell our story through imagery. However, unlike color photography, many of us have trouble creating artistic or compelling black and white photos.
~The Art of Black and White Digital Photography from Intructables.com
Black and white photography can seem dull next to the burst of colours emitted by colour photography, which creates a feeling of optimism and joy. Today, however, people are rediscovering the purity, beauty and power of black and white photography, which strips the image of the interpretive colours and has the ability to portray the timelessness, deep human emotions of pain, loss or despair.
Although the subject you are photographing is an important element of the picture, there are some other important factors to consider when shooting black and white photography. Basically, black and white photography is all about light and shadow. If you want to create stunning images, you need to learn to use these elements to compose your photos effectively and correctly. Experiment with the quality and intensity of light and try to take pictures of a subject at different times of the day and notice how light and shadow can affect the mood of the photo. For example, take a picture of a subject on a cloudy day, and then photograph the same subject on a bright day.
~The Art of Black and White Photography from fotoLARKO.com
To see in color is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.~Andri Cauldwell
Note: You all know that any image posted in the main page is reduced in size to fit the theme lay-out. Just click on image to see the “bigger” and “clearer” picture.
What are some tips you could give to people that really like your work?
Learn the basic photography techniques, learn how to edit and then learn to create your own unique vision. Everyone has his own vision, his own thoughts and feelings on the world we live in – try to discover what that is. That is more important than the technical skills. But most importantly: love what you do, be passionate about it and learn to create what YOU love, even if it means that no one else but you will appreciate what you’ve created.
~Joel Tjintjelaar on The Art of Black and White Photography from PhotographyOffice.com
I am always tempted to shoot in black and white in-cam. But based on my readings and advise of experts, it is better to shoot in color and convert to black and white later during post-processing. That way you don’t lose information that is fully captured in color – tones, shadows, highlights, dynamic range – which can all be useful and adjusted during conversion to black and white. So first and foremost, capture it good in color. I read somewhere that a good color photograph is a good black and white photograph.
The considerations are basically the same. What you look out for when photographing in color applies in black and white – lighting, lines, shapes, form, textures, patterns – and it would do well to be aware of these. Your composition will be guided by these elements. The above photo of a butterfly on thin vines was originally in color. And it was quite, well, colorful and vibrant. But I thought it would look good in black and white because of those dark and white patches, and the defined form of the creature against a light background. I have said before that not all color photos will work well in black and white. It’s your judgement call and you have the option to experiment. Which is also the wisdom in capturing in color; you can always revert back to the original color capture if the converted image to monochrome does not look interesting or appealing.
Happy weekend everyone! Saturdays and Sundays for me are reserved for this classic medium, allowing me the opportunity to further explore, discover and pursue the art of black and white photography. You can view these B&W images through the Monochrome Weekend category or the Monographs tab in the top menu of this page. Take care always blogger peers!