Clas­sic black and white

It’s not just about how you process your images, it’s about see­ing the world it­self in a whole new way…

NPhoto - - Con­tents -

10 ways to shoot suc­cess­ful mono­chrome images, from land­scapes to still lifes to por­traits

Pho­tog­ra­phy started out in mono­chrome be­cause that’s all the ma­te­ri­als of the time could record, but some­thing un­ex­pected came out of this tech­ni­cal lim­i­ta­tion. It be­came ap­par­ent that black-and-white images could have a sim­plic­ity and power all their own, and black-and-white pho­tog­ra­phy is still go­ing strong, decades af­ter colour imag­ing be­came a mass-mar­ket prod­uct avail­able to all.

But what makes a good black-and-white pho­to­graph? Af­ter all, they’re not all good. How is it you can you add to an im­age by tak­ing some­thing away? And what sub­jects work best in black-and-white?

To find out, we’ve picked ten clas­sic blackand-white sub­jects from our own col­lec­tion of images and from top mono­chrome pho­tog­ra­phers around the world. We’ve talked to the pho­tog­ra­phers to find out why they chose black-and-white, what equip­ment and tech­niques they used, and what pro­cess­ing steps they used on the com­puter. Many of these pic­tures were con­verted to black-and-white from colour orig­i­nals, so we’ve also printed the colour ver­sion as a com­par­i­son. We don’t just want to to say that the black-and­white ver­sion is best, we want to prove it! Many were pro­cessed us­ing spe­cial tech­niques and plug-ins so, where ap­pli­ca­ble, we’ve ex­plained what these were and why they were used.

The tech­ni­cal­i­ties are the easy part, how­ever. The real chal­lenge is learn­ing to see the world not in colour but as pat­terns of light and shade, as shapes and tex­tures. Don’t be dis­cour­aged if you don’t get it straight away. If you keep on shoot­ing you’ll soon start to no­tice how some images, sub­jects and light­ing sit­u­a­tions work bril­liantly in black-and-white.

We hope the ten shots we’ve se­lected for this fea­ture will give you a head start and in­spire you to try black-and-white pho­tog­ra­phy for your­self.

CHURCH, ICE­LAND Jonatha n Chritchle y Nikon D800, Zeiss 21mm Distagon, 20 secs, f/ 18, ISO100, Lee .6 Grad fil­ter

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