Everywhere is something which could be beautiful. You must only learn to see and to know what and how to take off, to crop from the infinity – abstract, fine art, nature, landscape and portrait photography.~Florin Constantinescu
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.
A photographer must be prepared to catch and hold on to those elements which give distinction to the subject or lend it atmosphere. They are often momentary, chance-sent things…Sometimes they are a matter of luck…Sometimes they are a matter of patience…Leaving out of question the deliberately posed or arranged photograph, it is usually some incidental detail that heightens the effect of a picture…But the photographer must be able to recognize instantly such effects.~Bill Brandt
Prolific writer of photography tips Jim Harmer shares some guides in his article 15 Tips for Stunning Black and White Photography. I will just list some of them and urge you to go over his very enlightening write-up.
Here is a partial listing:
- Shoot in RAW.
- To visualize in black and white, only pay attention to lines, shadows, and shapes.
- Pay special attention to noise.
- Look for contrast.
- Find a wide range of grays.
- Watch for texture.
- Look for patterns.
- Long exposures love black and white.
- B&W isn’t a replacement for bad lighting, but it can soften the blow.
With today’s digital cameras and powerful image editing programs, it is very easy to experiment in black and white. Some photographers find their “voice”, vision and style through this classic medium. It forces photographers to “see” more and look deeper for fine nuances and interesting characteristics in subjects, as opposed to shooting haphazardly in color, and letting the color element speak for the whole image. You have the tools of discernment and insight in black and white photography. Use them skillfully.
Article Excerpt: “Becoming more creative cannot be approached like an assembly line. There is no cookie cutter way to enhance the imaginative component of your photography. At the same time, with the exception of a few kinds of precision photography, creativity is the great differentiator between merely competent and inspirational photographers…Several photographers can shoot the same subject and all come back with technically competent captures. But one of those photographers might produce results that will outshine his or her buddies—all because of the creative X factor.”~Harold Davis, There Is No Recipe for Creativity from his article Expecting The Unexpected
So often we run around without much thought, looking for things to fall into place, whereas, if we give some thought to why we are there, we might make better use of what we find around us.~George Barr (Photo location: Bauan town, Batangas province)
Most of us avoid shadows and shades. Without the proper camera setting, or in-cam picture modes like backlighting and HDR effects, those shadows and shades become just dark, undefined areas in an image. We would not want that. Shadows and shades are caused by a light source. Inside our houses those are caused by flourescent lights, bulbs and lamps. Outside there is one primary light source and that is the sun. Where the sun is at the time of day determines where shadows set, as the sun’s light falls on objects. Midday sun is harsh and bright and will cast deep shadows right under objects. Photographers prefer the sun on the horizon, during sunrise or sunset, where light is soft and subdued, where dramatic colors come out, and where shadows from objects cast long, striking forms. Wherever shadows fall at whatever time of day, the keen photographer will be aware of the light and the shadows, and will use them to effectively compose his image. This article by Jmeyer titled Creative Landscape Photography: Master the Dark Art of Shadows and Shade will guide us on how to properly manage and compose our shot utilizing to our advantage those shadow elements. He shares tips on where to place the sun, how to get the right exposure, how to be creative with shadows and how to shoot with a low sun and shadow. Though the article is generally a guide on landscape photography, the techniques provided by the author can be applied on other genres and shooting situations because essentially it is all about the placement of light and how it affects subjects. Shadows and shades are created by the light source. Knowing how to capably capture them and expertly place them in the frame as they form shapes, patterns, lines and textures can result in visually compelling images. (Photo location: Loboc River, Bohol province)