Skip to content

Reminder CCY Challenge: #23 Black and White: The Basics

This Compose Yourself Photo Challenge (CCY) Theme is #23 Black and White:  The Basics and this challenge will be open through July 28, 2016.

5-gold-starsFor your assignment I would like to see at least 4-6 photos showing the compositional rules listed in the essay. Please tell us what rules you used in your photos.

Each week I will select up to three bloggers the Gold Star Award.  To find out who was awarded the Gold Star Award this period, please see CCY Gold Star Award Winners #22 Guide the Viewer and Flipping Photos.

Essay

I have decided to breakdown the topic of black and white into two different lessons.  This first essay will concentrate on what type of compositional things to look for when you are considering using black and white.  These includes photos you have already in your archives as well as future photos you will take.

Next month’s essay will cover post-processing techniques will be help you make your blacks and whites look more dramatic.

The biggest thing benefit of black and white is that your viewer will actually see more of the details of your photography.  The viewer doesn’t get caught up in the color.  Here are some things to consider looking for when you take a photo to turn into black and white.

Always Shoot in Color

If you have any kind of post-processing software, don’t let your camera decide how to create your black and white photos.  Your camera, especially if it doesn’t shoot RAW formatting, takes out all the color and turns everything into shades of gray, and that really limits your post processing choices.  If you think you would like to try black and white, shoot in color and then change it during post processing.  That will give you all the data your camera collected for you to play with.  (See more at the bottom of this essay about shooting in RAW versus JPEG formats.)

What Makes a Great Black and White Photo

  1. Texture
  2. Contrast

Texture

To make the details of your photos really stand out, look for texture.  Make sure that texture is not directly in the sun or you will lose details.  Look at the lines and determine if they are a contrast in color to the rest of your photo.  Same with shadows and shapes.

With this rose photo, you see the darker lines and hardness of the metal chainlink fence.  Notice you see quickly through the fence to find the familiar shape of a rose.  The hardness and regularity of the fence is in contrast to the curving lines of the flower.

062116bw_1

The lines in the railroad tracks have a lot of texture.  The rails themselves stand out because they are so bright and breaks up the texture of the gravel beside the tracks.
062116bw

I tried converting this tree trunk into a black and white because it had lots of texture.  As you can see, it doesn’t work.  Why?  Because there is no distinct lines, shadows or shapes that guide your eye.

062116bw_2

Contrast

Another things that works real well in black and white photo is contrast.  Contrast can be demonstrated by a specific area of smooth and a specific area of roughness, by light and dark.  These clouds were so beautiful and show the contrast wonderfully well.

062116bw_3

The contrast in this photo is in the tones of gray and black.  You have some real dark and some real light gray.  With the  light background, the shadow really stands out.  Can’t you imagine what that old camera would feel like in your hands?   What about the porcelain face of the clown?   Can’t you just feel how smooth that is?
062116bw_5

In the next pair of photos, a lot of color and light contrasts make this photo much better in black and white than its color counterpart.  Once again, the details really pop because of the sharper contrast between black and white.  The color photo has too many different colors and it can be distracting to the viewer.

This pair of irises illustrate when a photo doesn’t do well in black and white.  In this case, using a photo with lots of color contrasts doesn’t work.  You lose definition in black and white.

RAW vs. JPEG Formating

screenshot_340Here is a quick demonstration of the differences between taking photo in RAW and JPEG.

In the pansy photos to the right, the top photo is RAW and the bottom is JPEG as it came out of my camera.  I used to have my camera download both JPEG and RAW formats.  If you just look at the two photos it appears if RAW doesn’t have the same color qualities of JPEG.  When in fact it is exactly the opposite.

When taking photos as a JPEG your camera actually makes a lot of calculations as to what colors it thinks it is seeing.  Then your camera throws out all the other data.  That is also why JPEG photos take up about half the space as RAW.  RAW gives you much greater range when you are using any post processing software because it retains all the data that your camera gathered.  You have a lot more to play with, so if you use any type of post-processing software, RAW is the best choice of photo format.

Next, time I will show you some post-processing techniques for black and white photos.

Qi (energy) hugs

Cee

19 replies »

  1. Cee, you wrote: “The color photo has too many different colors and it can be distracting to the viewer.”
    In this particular case I beg to differ. As usual, context is everything. For someone like me who enjoys cooking and shopping groceries, the coloured photo is much more appealing (and the black and white shelf rather boring), the different shapes and colours lure me into the picture.

    An elderly man who was a boy in WWII and really knew what hunger feels like, was so enchanted with my daughter’s picture book, because it contained a very colourful illustration of a well-stocked pantry.

    Not really surprising the food industry advertises in colours, is it?

    Like

    • You make a wonderful point. Food maybe not the best topic I could have chosen for this photo. But think if you are a professional organizer, you would want the neat and clean looking black and white. What I love about photography you have the photographer and his/her photographic eye and artistry, although you also have the viewer’s eye too. Two people can see very differently and both are absolutely correct and neither is wrong. I do like your point. Something to consider in the future. Thanks for the lesson.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the clouds, great contrast,the black and white makes them look angry… I often take “out of the window of the plane photos” and haven’t thought of black and white….ooooh, when’s my next flight 🙂 !!

    Like

      • Don’t you just know I am now converting the sky to black and white!! Expect I shall join into this, what fun 🙂

        Like

          • I did! Please criticise, I know which I think works, but I would love your opinion, I had a lot of fun preparing the post, thanks for challenging us….it’s a great learning curve, so appreciate your work in gathering us all in to your challenges Cee…

            Like

          • I did! I would be open to any criticism, first attempt at B&W, but I have had such a fun time converting the photos I thought would work in B&W ….. great challenge Cee….

            Like

  3. Great article Cee ! It was a new realisation for me that contrast need not be of only color . It can be shape or even textures.

    Like

Pick Me Up

never look directly at the sun, instead, look at the sunflower, uplift, motivate, photography, Cee Neuner, ceenphotography.com, sunflower, macro, yellow

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10,816 other followers

Interview from Marsha Ingrao – Always Write

Interview from Andrea R Huelsenbeck -ARHtistic License

Blog Stats

  • 1,597,299 hits

A Listing of Challenges

CFFC – Tuesday

CFFC challenge runs weekly on Tuesday.

CMMC – Wednesdays

CBWC – Thursdays

CB&W challenge runs weekly on Thursdays.

FOTD – Daily

Award Free Blog

I appreciate you thinking of me for an award. I have had a lot of fun with awards in the past. I think awards are a fantastic tool to help out people who are just starting their blogging adventure. I've been here awhile now.

My best award is that you somehow still come to visit me when ever you get a chance. It's a thrill and joy to share my photography and life with all of you. Thanks.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

Copyright notice © Cee Neuner (aka Christine R Neuner) and CeeNPhotography.com blog.  All content of this website is the sole property of Cee Neuner. Please contact the owner for use of any image or text from this website.

Blog Stats

  • 1,597,299 hits

Cookies

For information on cookies on this WordPress blog please visit here.

%d bloggers like this: