The so­lu­tion to a harsh mid­day sun

Don’t like the colours and shad­ows dur­ing the mid­dle of a sunny day? Black and white may be your an­swer

NPhoto - - Nikopedia -

if not ex­actly im­mune to the time of day, black and white is much less in thrall to it than colour pho­tog­ra­phy is. Just think about the pop­u­lar­ity of the golden hour and magic hour as times for shoot­ing. The strong­est com­po­nent of these two times of day is their colour, and be­cause so many pho­tog­ra­phers prize these end-of-theday hues, by com­par­i­son mid­day tends to get re­jected. Black and white hardly suf­fers from this prob­lem (if you con­sider it a prob­lem, that is; not ev­ery­one does).

This shot of Ti­betans load­ing up a yak car­a­van for the trail was taken at mid­day in western Sichuan, at high alti­tude, so the light was stark and the colours of the river bed were, to me, bland and un­in­ter­est­ing. The Ti­betans weren’t go­ing to wait for late af­ter­noon and good light just for me, so I switched my mind to black and white mode, and con­cen­trated on tonal­ity and shape. There was one tone in par­tic­u­lar that I fo­cused on – the leath­ery face of this man. It’s a cliché, of course, but in this case I thought com­pletely jus­ti­fied, be­cause I could see a com­par­i­son be­tween his weather-beaten skin and the leather sacks they were load­ing on the yak. In the con­ver­sion to mono­chrome, low­er­ing the red of his face while keep­ing the op­po­site bank of the river light got the deep con­trast that I wanted.

As a colour im­age, I didn’t care for the in­sipid colours and hard light­ing, but trans­la­tion into black and white em­pha­sised the tex­ture of the man’s face and the sacks

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