Day of Photography
19th of August
And five tips for black and white photography
A lovely friend of mine (Carina) pointed out, that today is the Photography Day. But what exactly is the purpose of this day?
Photography Day is all about celebrating things associated with photography. Today you can appreciate your love or passion for photography. It does not matter if you are just an amateur. The important part of this day, is that you embrace photography because it makes you happy.
But what should I write on this special occasion?… I could tell you something about my love towards photography and what I learned from my absolute favourite photographer.
Already as a child I enjoyed taking pictures of animals at the zoo, plants and flowers. At that time I had a really old-fashioned camera where you had to buy separately a film. No digital-camera at that time. I remember after my first camera broke, I wished for my birthday a SLR (single lens reflex camera). And as my wish came through I could not stop taking photographs with my Canon 500 D. Having a great camera I started to buy several books about photography and tried to inform me about every field: from black and white to portraits over still life. However, the monochrome photography just caught my attention and to be honest I still find it very interesting and fascinating. You may think that it is not as variable and diverse as coloured pictures as you only have white, black and a wide range of grey.
However, during my high school I had to choose between additional music and art lesson. You must know that I have no musical skills whatsoever. This left me with not having a choice and eventually attending the art classes. I was always an average student there, but as we had the opportunity to start our own art project I was exhilarated! There was my chance to do something I really enjoy and I hoped by starting a photography project to reach a good grade. The teacher’s assignment was to find an artist (photographer, painter, sculptor or even a film-maker) and try to copy his style while combining it with your own. This was the very moment my passion for photography really started.
I took the black and white landscape photographer Ansel Adams (1902–1984) as an example and inspiration. If you have never heard of Adams then here is a short description of his photography style: He became famous for photographing landscapes with a razor-sharp precision and with an eye for structure and detail. His themes were often mountains, canyons and the plans of the American West. Characteristic for his work is the high contrast.
In this picture one can clearly see how Adams applies the beauty of a high contrast. Moreover, it also shows the application of the Golden Ratio very well. I took some of his principles and rules and tried to use them for my own photography project. Here are some impressions of my project.
During my photography project I was able to write down some rules and tips that helped me with bringing out the best of the pictures.
1. Pay only attention to lines, patterns, texture, shadows, and shapes: This trick helps you to pre-visualise a black and white picture although we live in a very colourful world.
2. Look for contrast: This is my absolute favourite tip. Because this increased contrast adds interest to the photograph and catches one’s attention.
3. Play with a long exposure: Long exposure picture work very well in monochrome photography. So, look out for moving water or clouds.
4. ISO: In very basic terms, ISO is the level of sensitivity of your camera to available light. A higher number indicates higher sensitivity. For monochrome photography, use the lowest ISO. If you use a high ISO the noise (unpleasant dots and grains on your picture) will become more obvious.
5. Shoot in RAW: This allows you to edit the picture afterwards in so many different ways. Additionally, maybe a bit contradicting point, but when you shoot in monochrome it happens from time to time that your photo just does not turn out the right way when you finally see it on the computer. By shooting in this mode you will be able to turn your black and white photo into a coloured one.
I hope there are one or two helpful tips you can use for your next monochrome adventure!
And if I could catch your attention and interest for black and white photography there is a homepage of an American photographer (Jeffrey Conley) I like to check from time to time.