You must forgive that this is merely the thought process of a hobbyist, rather than a tutorial from an expert. In a world awash with blinding, over-saturated colour photos, plenty has been written on this subject in response, but I felt it might help some readers (especially those just starting out in photography) to elaborate on my decision-making process and reasons for rendering or shooting an image in black and white (B+W). Your rationales may be different, of course, but by articulating mine it might help an understanding of what makes black and white images so appealing.
She posed atop a sand dune with wind-gnarled cypress trees clinging to a rocky precipice in the distance. She was nude of course, and sitting on a bedpan. A dead pelican lay at her kelp-entwined feet. In one hand she held a nautilus, in the other the most sensuous bell pepper that had ever grown. As I adjusted my 8×10’s tilts and shifts she gave me that glance – just 1/60th of a second, but in that moment I knew there would be more tilting and shifting later as her aperture and my shutter speed would dance in perfect rhythm. I stopped the lens down to f/64, then…I woke up.
A while ago, Nasim went to London to spend some time with his family and meet up with some of our dear readers. You might have noticed that, for a couple of weeks, he did not have much time to work on articles, certainly not as much as usual. You might also have noticed my own absence for the last couple of months at least. We did not plan to take vacation at the same time. It just so happened that I, too, have been extremely busy at the time, hence no new Lightroom or composition-related articles coming out. My time away, however, was rather less glamorous than that of my friend’s. And less relaxing, let alone fun or enthusiastically met. In fact, it was somewhat of a nightmare at times, a blur of nights and days turning into long, long weeks of never-ending stacks of books, articles and albums. How I missed my job! Although rationally I understand it is not, in the moments of weakness writing articles seemed like a much simpler endeavour. Certainly much more fun.
I am happy to say, though, that in the end the result is just as pleasing and satisfactory to me as Nasim’s trip was to him, even if the process was nerve-wrecking. I expect at this point you are rather curious what I am on about. Well, just a few hours ago I received my Bachelor’s degree. Yes, I am now officially an educated man with a Faculty of Arts diploma, cheers! But that’s not very interesting. Let’s be fair, as challenging as it was writing some 40 pages of theory and spending even more time photographing, it’s no doctoral dissertation, Bachelor’s degree is merely the first, smallest of steps up an educational skyscraper. It is also rather common in my country where most people seek a degree right after finishing high school (generally at the age of 19). What I hope is a little more interesting are these portraits, some of which make up the creative part of my thesis.
‘Attempting’ and ‘style‘ being the salients word here! Nope, not any kind of expert on this subject either but the style and simplicity of fine art photography is greatly appealing to me, and by explaining why we may consider some important aspects of making compelling images.
If you are inspired by the works of Ansel Adams, James Nachtwey or other masters of black and white photography, you probably want to try doing some B&W yourself. If you don’t know how to take black and white pictures and where to start, then this guide might help you to get into the world of B&W photography. I must admit that I am no guru when it comes to black and white photography, but I have been experimenting with it lately and would like to share what I have learned so far.
1) Colors in Black and White Photography
As strange as it may sound, black and white photography is not about the tones of white, grey and black colors that we see in B&W images. Instead, it is all about the colors that are recorded by the camera and how those colors are converted to different shades of grey, whether in-camera or through post-processing. Back in the film days, photographers used color filters in front of their lenses while shooting B&W film, then would employ special darkroom processing techniques like dodging and burning on top of that to lighten or darken particular parts of a photograph (some landscape photographers still do it today with medium and large format film).
This is the second part of the “Best of 2010″ collection for landscape photography. I have not done much of black and white photography, so the below images are sort of “experimental”. Let me know what you think of these! If you like the way they came out, I will post a quick tutorial showing how I did it.