2020 Photo Challenge #47

November’s theme / technique: Black and White Photography

Often overlooked black and white offers so much depth and emotion and has a timeless nature to it. It’s about searching for a new perspective and creating a visual that is better without colour. It’s about expressing emotion not just removing colour. It’s not about shooting objects that lack colour to begin with (i.e. a zebra)

“To see colour is a delight for the eye, but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul” Andri Cauldwell

Colours are great, but can add distraction to a photo. Black and White images lack those colours and allows you to focus on the contrast and patterns that you may not have previously noticed.

    • If the photo lacks definition try adjusting the contrast or using colour filters in your editing software. Yellow will make things appear darker, orange darker still and red the darkest. Green filters can bring out the detail especially in green subjects. Blue filters block red light, making reds darker.
    • The best black and white photographs often have clear ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’ to guide the viewer.
    • Look for light or dark backgrounds for your photo shoot. Then, simply choose a subject with the opposite tone (light subject with a dark background / dark subject with a light background).
    • Silhouettes don’t necessarily have to be shot with perfect backlight if the subject is dark enough and the background is light.
    • Tones – the underlying brightness, darkness, and shades of grey that appear in an image. The tones of your image – whether dark or bright – should harmonise with the character of the subject itself. Dark tones can be moody and dramatic, light tones ethereal and light. (Low-key vs High-key)

What is important though is the composition. Try using a square format to emphasise the composition especially if there is a distinct pattern formation. When you take a picture in monochrome you may have to make different decisions about how you compose the shot.

“One sees differently with colour photography than black and white… in short visualisation must be modified by the specific nature of the equipment and materials being used” Ansel Adams

You can use Monochrome Mode on your camera, or turn colour photos into black and white with your favourite post-processing application.

This week's assignment - Photograph nature in black and white. This can be more challenging as we often associate the natural world with colour, so look for contrasts, shapes, patterns, tones. Experiment with high-key and low-key effects.

Mirror Lake, Yosemite, California

This photo above has contrasting shapes and tones – the flat curvy reflective lake, the towering mountains, the white trees on one side and the darker ones on the other.

Whereas this one below emphasises the pattern of the pier and the silhouettes of the people. The low key effect plus removing the colour makes the pier look as though it is level with the water, which gives it a surreal effect.

Low Key version of Porthleven Pier

If you would like to join in with the 2020 photo challenge then please take a look at my 2020 Photo Challenge page. No complicated rules, just a camera required 🙂

    • Create your own post with some information about how you composed the shot.
    • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
    • Add the tag #2020PhotoChallenge so everyone can find your entry easily in the WP Reader
    • Get your post(s) in by the end of the month, as the new theme begins on the first Sunday in December.

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

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