Early morning light with clouds.  (John Enman photo)

Making Pictures With Professional Photographer John Enman

Making BW photos is – easier than ever

When I took my trip to Riverside Park last week I had intended to make all the photos black and white, but I was so intrigued with all the unexpected colour on a drab day that I kept everything in colour. Gosh, digital cameras have made that change so easy.

This week I got up a bit early on a bright morning and decided I would see what kind of subjects I could find to convert to black and white.

The term ‘black and white’ is left over from the days when we only had a choice between buying B&W or Colour film.

“Black-and-white images combine black and white in a continuous spectrum, producing a range of shades of gray. A picture which uses only the two shades of white and black would look similar to a silhouette. Therefore, calling a photo a “black and white image” is actually a misnomer.” Wikipedia

The more the tonal range is the better the final image will be (unless one is going for a high contrast look). A good B&W photograph will have many more gray tones than just black or white.

As I walked out to start my car I was happy to see that the sky to the north was filled with clouds. A bright cloudless sky can be so boring. Clouds make the composition interesting and add depth to a scene.

I could have chosen to manipulate the clouds when I opened my images on my computer. However, the best way to take advantage of the clouds and make them dramatically interesting would be if I used the camera I had converted to infrared (IR). So I put that camera on the seat beside me also. Both cameras gave me lots of choice, but I mostly used the IR.

To make the clouds work in my photographs I kept the sun at my back so there would be lots of IR light reflecting off my subject and the clouds. And I kept the clouds in my view with most of the subjects I chose.

I remember a photography instructor I had telling the class that he would squint when he was looking at the scene he was about to photograph with B&W film so he could see the different shades of grey easier. I also remember purchasing a viewer that was basically a neutral density filter to look at a subject and see more tonality.

That was the time of film, but now I can easily do all that on my computer display.

For those that haven’t tried monochrome (another word applied to B&W) image making, I will mention that it is easier than ever. Most digital cameras have a black and white mode available in the menu. However, I would suggest trying one of the many great programs available on the Internet that can be downloaded to test for free. Who knows, you might, like I do, really enjoy black and white photography.

I looked for a quote that was about B&W photographs and found this one,

“While colour photography gets ever closer to reproducing a ‘real image’, comparable to that witnessed by the eye, mono provides a level of abstraction that can evoke a sense of fantasy, dream or escape,” Tim Savage.

Stay safe and be creative. These are my thoughts for this week.

Contact me at www.enmanscamera.com or emcam@telus.net.

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