The Power of Black and White Photography
Ron Bowman, NH Nature Photographer
Black and white photography is growing in popularity and considered by many photographers and viewers to represent the true essence of artistic, fine art photography. By removing color from a photograph, the focus automatically shifts to the photo’s compositional elements, including form, shape, lines, textures, contrast, tone, and mood. It forces viewers to pay attention to intricate details. Whereas In color photography, the dominant color sometimes becomes the focus, thus masking the photograph’s finer details. In some photographs the colors are too pretty and overly saturated.
Well over 100 years ago photography began in black and white and many black and white photographers, like Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lang, Robert Capa, Richard Avedon, and many others are still considered the most famous and most recognized photographers of our time. Our enduring romance with black and white photography continues today.
Not all color photographs will translate well in black and white. I’m a landscape photographer and I’ve found that my best images converted to black and white include waterfalls, buildings, structures, and any photo that includes texture, lines, shapes, and form. I’ve read that black and white will also translate well to portrait photography, industrial photography, journalism, and commercial photography.
So how do you begin? Let’s start with your current portfolio of color images. My recommendation is to invest in a black and white software program like Topaz B&W Effects, which is a plug in to Photoshop. The Topaz program includes 200 different filters and adjustments that will bring out the best in your images. I’ve been using Topaz for several years now, but I’m sure other software programs work just as well. You will need to experiment with your images to see which ones translate/convert well to black and white. As far as new images are concerned you can change the setting in your camera to monochromatic so that you can view images in black and white prior to taking them. My preference is to view and shoot in color and then convert them using the Topaz software.
Black and white is considered timeless. Your black and white images make a bold statement and will help you stand out from the crowd. Below are just a few of my black and white images that I hope you will enjoy. To see more of my images please visit my website and if you have any questions, or comments please reach out to me via my website contact page.