Sunday, 13 May 2018

Return to Black & White Photography

It's been a very long time since I worked in b&w photography. In fact, I haven't done it since I first took up photography back in 1987. At the time it was still a film only era, of course, and I was only interested in shooting b&w film. Colour had no appeal to me at all. I joined a photo club and had a makeshift darkroom in the spare room of my London flat where I developed my own b&w film and did my own enlarging and print processing. It was a very expensive hobby which I couldn't keep up for very long, so I was delighted when digital photography came about: now, all of a sudden, photography was free once you had your picture taking equipment and a computer; no more endless, hefty spending on film, chemicals and photo paper! However, shooting with a digital camera I quickly realised it was hard, if not impossible, to achieve the same quality b&w results as shooting on film.  On the other hand, digital photography saw a boom in colour photography; everyone seemed to share just colour photos on the internet. Colour was something new to try my hand at, so I started thinking and shooting in terms of colour.  I still tried to edit my photos in b&w as well, but colour versions seemed more effective almost invariably. So for many years I virtually forgot about b&w and shot exclusively in colour.
My desire to start creating b&w images again was born out of two things: the first is my recent decision to focus my efforts solely on mood photography, and b&w medium is perfect for creating mood. The absence of colour really helps you draw the attention to the atmosphere and mood; and secondly, I always like to make improvements in my work and learn new things about photography and I feel that converting colour digital images into b&w provides a great scope for making a progress in my work.
So here is a first  handful of selected images I took recently/not long ago that I thought would look good converted to black & white. Most of them I haven't shared before at all and one or two I shared as colour images.


Upper Ponden Farm, Stanbury Moor

Three Old Wooden Chairs, Haworth

Lake District Sheep

Reading Spot, Haworth

Brontë Parsonage, Haworth

Sepia, with its old photo look, is part of monochrome photography I am also eager to experiment with.

Wycoller Village, Lancashire
I always like to view other photographers' work; in fact I think it's very important to do that as a photographer, but I find that the longer I am doing photography the harder it is to see photos that really move me. But just recently I have seen some very beautiful, heavily desaturated, "almost black & white" images that did give me that inner glow and made me want to try the post processing technique on some of my images. I do like just a hint of colour in these images; I think it adds to the feel of the subject in the image.

Branwell's room, Brontë Parsonage

Earnshaw Room, Ponden Hall
This year for my birthday I got a most amazing gift from a dear friend - a gorgeous vintage wooden writing slope. It is special also because it comes from a great gift shop in Haworth, Number 71, run by mutual friends. Of course, a still life image was in order very soon!

Still Life With Vintage Writing Slope

I am not saying I will now be creating b&w images only. I will merely try and include them in my work as well. Not every image looks best in b&w and I am hoping to get better at seeing and understanding tonal ranges and deciding if a scene will look better in colour or b&w.
I bought an interesting, concise online b&w digital photography guide and am looking forward to seeing how I can apply the tips to my themes and style of work.






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