Why Taking Pictures in Black And White (Part 1)

Black and white photography is a suitable technique for many nature scenes. It requires a particular frame of mind. A black and white photograph should be prepared and planned from the framing to the post-processing on a computer. However, black and white photography is also a separate discipline within photography which enables a photographer to express emotions that he cannot convey through color photographs.

A black and white photograph taken in the Racetrack in Death Valley.
A black and white photograph taken in the Racetrack in Death Valley.

The purpose of a black and white photo

A black and white photograph immediately displays the point of interest. The viewer’s gaze is guided by geometric shapes, lines, and the contrast between light and dark. These elements will enable the viewer to read the message that the photographer wants to convey. A more simple way of expressing this idea is to say that a black and white photograph can go straight to the point to deliver a key message. Color photographs allow digressions and take the audience to the message by secondary ways. Black and white photography is a very direct creative technique.

Black and white photography is difficult to master

Good black and white photos are difficult to create because the photographer has to decide on a clear message that he wants the photo to express. It takes a lot of experience to create good photos in black and white. It is not a technique for all photographers. It takes a lot of research and training to understand black and white photography. To be able to achieve good pictures in black and white, a photographer must have lived, tried, suffered, and gotten lost in the maze of color.

Black and white photography is an uncompromising art. Errors in the framing, the composition, the choice of the points of interest, the choice of lighting, or the choice of processing are immediately penalized by the uninteresting photo which results. Color photography is more forgiving. The way that colors attract the viewer’s eyes often masks errors in composition.

Black and white photography requires a photographer to spend a long time learning about it, and we believe that only the most persevering photographers manage to create interesting black and white pictures. We firmly believe that black and white photography is one of the pinnacles of the visual art of photography.

Black and white photography is a creative technique

The world around us, especially nature, is colorful. A color image can show the way our surroundings really are. Of course, it is possible to interpret that reality through a photograph, and that is what we strive to do in order to fulfill our artistic vision.

Black and white photography is primarily creative expression because it does not show a true picture of reality, which is in color. A black and white photo has one purpose: to convey the message that the photographer wants to send clearly, without frills.

The language of color photography is based on the rendering of colors, lighting, shapes, textures, etc.

Black and white is the basic language of a photographer. The elements that he can use to deliver his message are shapes, textures, lines, and perspectives. He returns to the basics of photography. In black and white photography, the photographer reveals raw emotions.

Black and white is timeless

Color photography is always changing to adapt to different fashions in the choice of colors. Very often, it is possible to date the artistic work of a photographer just by looking at the colors used in a print.

Black and white is a magical creative technique because it is timeless. Sometimes it is possible to say that black and white photographs are old, not because of the quality of the grays but because of the posture of the people or because of the scenes. But it is not possible to give an exact date. Black and white is timeless. For us, black and white became a way to create photographs that will live on through the years and survive changing fashions.

Black and white does not reflect sorrow

Many people think that black and white always transmits negative feelings and sorrow, or records disasters. It is true that it is often used in these contexts, because, as we said, the language of black and white photography is very direct, without barriers. In black and white, the composition sends a direct message. The message conveyed by the composition is direct because the reinforcing elements and the attributes of the points of interest guide the viewer.

Yet in photographs of landscapes or wildlife, black and white is synonymous with beauty and aesthetics. Mineral landscapes or mammals’ hair are enhanced by black and white because they have rich textures. If the photographer chooses the lighting well, the resulting pictures will be undeniably better than they would be if they were taken in color.

Nostalgia

For many photographers who remember black and white TV and who started taking pictures before autofocus existed, black and white photography has a nostalgic quality. We often tend to think that the past was better than the present is. People have a habit of cutting out the bad parts of reality in their memories. Photographs, especially black and white photos, are affected by this human behavior. Many photographers swear only by black and white photography.

In reality, it isn’t that simple. Not all scenes are suitable for black and white photography. Nostalgia for the old days is not a sufficient reason to use this technique.

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