2020 Photo Challenge #48

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.

What is important though is the compositionTry 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 month's final assignment - Try your hand at urban photography. Look for interesting architectural objects or street scenes or even people if you are confident enough. 

Remember – 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.


In this image those chairs are extremely colourful, by removing the colour the chairs take on a different perspective. It almost looks to me as though they are sitting back, wistfully watching the two guys in conversation, aching to join in.

The image above left emphasises the textures and patterns of the walls and the paving in this narrow alleyway in one of the oldest parts of Sydney. In the second image it’s more to do with the passer-by glancing at the grand Queen Victoria building. You can’t help looking beyond him to see what he is looking at. In colour I believe you would look directly at the building and barely notice the figure in the foreground.

Another Sydney view. This one is of an art installation of empty birdcages. The buildings are coloured, but here the removal of the colour reveals a dark and light side.  And it’s not necessarily the birdcages that catch your attention, but the way the lines lead you to the lone figure. An eerily deserted scene in the middle of a large and vibrant city. Where have all the birds and people gone? An image that stirs your imagination? A scene that we are all too familiar with this year, but this photo was taken in December 2014.


I have several reasons here for converting this image into black and white. The intricate lamps are in fact a bright red, and dominate the scene. But by removing the colour you then notice the shadows and the reflections. Reflections of people that you can’t actually see on the street. That seemingly abandoned pushchair. Another story to tell?

What kind of narrative do your photos tell?

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 week, as the new theme begins next Sunday on Shape and Form.

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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.

38 thoughts on “2020 Photo Challenge #48”

  1. Ha! I’d promised myself I would try to take fresh material rather than play about with older images. But Country Mouse ain’t going to town at the moment, even for you. So it’s back to the archive … Still, if you can do it – I particularly like the second pair – so perhaps can I.

    1. I don’t have a lot of choice for urban! Barely been away from our hamlet this year! Not what I had in mind when I set this challenge.

        1. After three years of playing nurse to various relatives I had earmarked this year for travelling again, UK and possibly Portugal and Australia. I couldn’t have got it more wrong!

  2. I love that final one. Like Margaret I’ve dipped into the archives, and turning them b&w made me feel as though I’d turned back time too

  3. I think I’d really like Auckland! I love that last one. And that first is a pretty intriguing shot, colour or no colour. 🙂 🙂 I do like you talking me through them because I don’t necessarily see what you see. In my last walk I converted many of the shots to black and white, but didn’t use them. The one I have in mind, which would work for this, was a house with an out of shot Elizabeth reflected in the glass, looking down the valley. I preferred it in colour. Don’t you think that sometimes you are affected by what you already know about the scene? Anyway, food for thought 🙂 Happy Sunday!

    1. As I was saying to Margaret last week I think the best black and white photos come from studying a scene differently. Looking for contrasts, shapes, patterns, or setting the camera to monochrome. Converting colour images only really works if you have some of those elements or can edit an image by upping the contrasts, colours etc. Your house shot sounds intriguing with the reflection. I would like to see that.

        1. Ah, go on. This is the last B&W and only 4 more to go after this week. Not quite the challenge I had envisaged for myself.

    2. I haven’t used that shot because it didn’t fit with the post, but I have used something similar of Michael’s. He bought me an old ‘new’ camera this week because I managed to get sand in the other and the shutters wouldn’t close. I had smudges in the centre of my last few shots. Happily it seems to have improved since then, but the moral of the story is, never buy Jo an expensive camera. 🙂 🙂

  4. Ah, urban, Street B&W was what I actually used for #47…so I’ll need to dig some more out of the archive!!

  5. I like the symbolism of the birdcages being empty. As for a shisha pipes, I haven’t seen one of those since I left Camden. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete. x

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