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BLACK AND WHITE


Sometimes colour gets in the way.

Removing colour allows photographers to have more control over where the viewers eye roams. Mood can be emphasised too. For me, only very specific photographs suit conversion to black and white. You can't convert just any image.

Here is my selection of images that I prefered to see in black and white.




It would be a very rare event where I would convert a classic sunset or sunrise to black and white, and that is because those pictures are about the colour, I would never convert a photo if I felt that something important about that image would be lost. And converting for the sake of it is wrong in my book.

If you want something toned down, then you need to change your subject matter.

None of the above images are golden hour photos. But the black and white conversions injects back into the image the impact that I saw when I took the picture.






The black and white processing technique that I used here emphasises the depth that is built into the composition

The depth in each of these comes from the fact that they depict roads drifting off into the distance.

Put together like this they have quite an impact. But they would have none if you saw the originals all placed together.




I use black and white and heavy vignetting to emphasise depth. I also use black and white to emphasise elements that in colour would blend in silently to their surroundings.

That applies to the top left image of the vapour trail that looks like a comet falling to earth. Barely visible in colour, the horizon, sun and vapour trail take over the photo with this conversion

That's what I saw when I took the image, and that's what I see after the black and white conversion.




Trees provide patterns that are fascinating. In the UK there are thousands of single lane countrylanes that sit under cathedral like overhanging trees.

These images were taken in the middle of the day and lack character when viewed in colour. But it's the detail in the branches that I saw when I took the photo, and the black and white conversion gave that feeling back to me.

Again the colour version lacked the impact that I was looking for.



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These two images look great in black and white. Actually an Instagram type filter also looks great on photos like this, and ten years ago or so that effect would have looked different and original and these black and whites would have looked like copycat images!

That's almost reversed now, as Instagram has taken over the world, and the fashion in black and white architecture is for long exposure clouds and shiny modern buildings.

Now these types of compositions have kind of got their originality back!







I love angular architecture, as it gives the photographer so many compositional options.

The wall that surrounds Dubrovnik Old Town is a good example of this, and is also very old architecture, rather than shiny angular, new architecture.

There was no point in keeping the colour in any of these images, as it was secondary to the shapes and shadows.

The sky is that white cloudy uniform gray, and it is essential for these compositions that the sky is blown out. That is something to consider when composing your photographs. There is sometimes a bit of an obsession with detail. Don't forget that 'no detail' also has its place in the armoury of a creative photographer.

Collectively the have a very pleasant impact on the eye.




This is a communist era tower built in the center of Prague in Czech Republic.

The baby sculpures were put up permanently some years ago, and when I saw the two together I had to photograph them.

I went for a more abstract look in my compositions because everyone can instantly recognise the babies, but not why or where they are, which helps to create impact.

All helped of course by the black and white conversion.




I really enjoyed taking these images. I was wandering around the beaches in-between the French and Belgium towns of Bray-Dunes and De-Panne.

The beaches are backed by sand dunes and when I was there there was soft sunlight on a spring mid-morning.

Wandering around the dunes in the low bits between high bits, I could see cross sections that started with rippled sand and rose up to grasses, the horizon and the sky.

This suited the verticle orientation for the camera, and at home on the computer I was able to concentrate the viewers attention on all the details and textures by removing the colour.

With just a simple basic black and white conversion, I think these images look great together.




These photos of the Fagaras mountains in Romania turned themselves into black and white photos because originally the grey road was the same tone as the green grass, so the two were indistinguishable from each other, and I could barely separate the road from the landscape.

This conversion involved changing the hue and colour intensity of the greens and greys in order to make them different to each other in terms of their greyscale values.

That made the colour version 'un-viewable' due to the strange colours. But in black and white I got exactly the effect that I wanted, which was the road winding its way through the mountain landscape.



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This photo has the angular edges that I like, and it has depth with the road disappearing into the distance.

This was a dusk image, and actually looks good as a colour photograph.

But I was able to bring out more detail in the brickwork and cobbles with this black and white conversion, and just liked it more.





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