Exercise Black and white
All the images that I have seen of myself as a small child were in black and white, I don’t know if colour pictures were available in the early 60’s or if it was just that my family could not afford them. As I grew older the colour images started to appear. I remember coming home from school one day and looking at a colour television for the first time. The difference was incredible. People today will not have this experience as we live in a world of colour. But things and taste change.
My wife, April, loves watching black and white films, it’s not just the story but the shooting style adds a certain quality to the atmosphere . April wanted the Wonderful Life DVD for Christmas, not the digital re-mastered colour version , but the black and white original . She said that the colour conversion would spoil the film.
Black and white images are , in my view, more fashionable now then ever they were, look at this excellent image by Peter Delaney, winner of the Nature in Black and White 2011. ( see the Natural History Museum web pages.
A truly excellent image, I don’t think it would have been as good in colour, but that’s just my view.
I looked at two items that I thought would look better in black and white.
- An Old Telephone in a shop window.
- A Section of tree trunk.
Looking at the phone it would have been originally used at a time when images were taken in black and white. The phone is black in colour with a silver dialling piece. I took a close-up image of the dial showing the Southwater 274.The emergency 999 was in red on a white background. I think that this really stands out. The receiver has nice lines and sits well in the cradle. A shallow depth of field throws the cable out of focus. There is a bit of reflection from the shop window which is a bit of a shame. I wanted to get over to the viewer that this was a classic design and I think the black and white image shows this.
As an experiment I did a little work in Photoshop and produced this image, what do you think?
The second image I took was of the tree trunk. Again I used a very shallow depth of field and focused in on the centre of the knot. The bark looks so much better in black and white, especially the black lines running through the trunk like veins.
As I was writing this blog I found an image that I took of a couple on a beach looking out to sea, I’ve converted it to black and white, what do you think?
I think that it looks ok, however the problem with putting an award-winning picture by Peter Delaney in this exercise is that it shows you the massive difference between our images!
An enjoyable exercise looking at black and white images. As it says in the notes it not as simple as just shooting in colour and doing the black and white conversion later. This will not make for a good black and white image. You have to shot with black and white in mind.
Without the colour in the shot, to attract the viewer , you have to rely on a much stronger image to capture the eye of those looking at your work. Stronger lines and shapes for example.
Maybe you should start by taking all your pictures in black and white to train your eye to capture the finer parts of an image. The colour images could come later.
Food for thought.