Black and White

Someone whose opinion is valued suggested I should produce some black and white photography. 

I’ve always liked black and white images and like the graininess that can be seen with film images but I am not so sure digital black and white has the same effect. 

It still looks good and definitely appeals to me but its just not the same.

I do think good black and white photographers must see in black and white. I’ve said that before and the reason I say is because they seem to understand shapes and textures but maybe they just have a really good or tacit understanding of light. 

I’ve looked at a number of my pictures and converted them to black and white but have not been particularly keen on most of them. Many look flat, that seems to be the only way I can describe them and I’m wondering if this has something to do with the processing. Perhaps I just need to learn more about contrast and adjusting the colour channels. 

I was doing a little project looking at directional light and its effect on an image. I picked four images and converted them to black and white. They could all do with some magic computer trickery but as of yet I am only just coming to terms with the very basic of adjustments

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Initially when I took this photograph my intention was to capture some silhouettes. I played around with the camera settings and managed to get the images I set out to obtain. The image above is one of the first I took and while it is not a strict silhouette I have included it here simply because I like it. The lack of detail, increased contrast and subject makes this image feel old and not dateable. 

The next image was also taken with natural sunlight. When I took the photo I had hoped for some interesting textures and shadows but I think the sunlight being so strong made it difficult to capture what I could see. Some of the detail is missing and I think this might be the result of incorrect metering. I guess if I had metered for the ring finger I would have captured more detail. I also wonder if this image would be salvageable if I was knowledgable and proficient with photography software.

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I don’t know the proper term but when I set out to get this image I wanted to get some flare/glare from the sun. I wanted some bleached out areas and some elongated shadows so I headed out early-(ish) to make the most of a low sun. 

I kind of like the result although I’m sure with a bit more practice and patience I could do a lot better. None the less I’m happy with this as a first attempt and will revisit this another time.

I did chuckle trying to get this photo and many that have been out with a camera will sympathise. Normally the average person will stand and wait for people to move out of the shot so that we can get the picture of our loved one next to a land mark and the photo gets added to our holiday snaps. Yet we stand and stand and stand, patiently waiting and on these occasions it is usually busy and people just mill around. Almost like they are doing it deliberately. Generally they ignore that fact you are trying to take a photo and just stand around, in the way. (or is it just me they do this to?).

Anyway, I wanted people in this shot and I couldn’t believe how many people spotted that I was taking a photo and rather than typically getting in the way people kept getting out of the way and apologising. A little frustrating but actually very funny. (Even at the time).

The next image is the manageress of a pub in Waterloo, London. My first time playing with an off camera flash. 

I have made some adjustments to the image and am fairly happy with the result. However if there is one thing I would change it would be to lighten the shadow on the left side of her face. Again, this is something I do not know how to do (Yet!!) and an area I hope to learn about in the coming months. 

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As always, thank you for visiting and please feel free to leave comments.

Kind regards,

Jim Jimmy James 

2 comments

  1. As a black and white fan, I think comments are in order Jimmy. I agree completely that film has an edge over digital, when it comes to B+W shots. I have Adobe Photoshop, but haven’t used it yet, so can offer little advice. What I can offer, are suggestions on composition, and apertures. I know that out in the street, background bystanders do not always perform, but that means having to wait, often for a long time. Not always convenient.
    The shot of the soldiers could well have been hard to date, save for the lady with the buggy and leggings in the background, That makes it definitely modern. I don’t know what you had available, but a larger aperture might well have blurred her out of the shot.
    The guitar shot could do with a much smaller aperture perhaps, which might necessitate a tripod, or even some added lighting, though I appreciate you were trying to use natural light.
    The term you are looking for in the outside shot is ‘Contre-Jour’, French for literally ‘against the day’. It was a fair stab, but I would have lost the handlebars, if I could.
    The bar portrait is fine, but again, a very large aperture would make it more of a portrait. However, if you wanted her in the context of the job, you succeeded.
    So, advice from an old man that doesn’t take photos any more? It is well-intentioned, as I am sure you know. Keep snapping, old friend. Best wishes as always, Pete.

    1. Thanks for the input.
      I had hoped the leggings were far enough in the background to not be too clear.
      I lost so much detail in the hand with the guitar.
      The ‘Contre-Jour’ (Thank you for the term) is more of a test shot. Composition noted.
      Yes I wanted some of the bar to add context. I didn’t want to use the flash fully to the front as I’m not a big fan of how that looks but do need to play around with the position a little more.

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