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Friday, March 27, 2020 Written by
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“Natural Wonders of Valley of Fire in Color" – Collection of Fine Art Prints 

Lanscape in color Valley of Fire in Nevada in United States. Photograph by Amar Guillen, photographer artist.
Friday, March 20, 2020 Written by
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“Imprint of Time” – A Collection of Fine Art Photos in Shades of Blacks and Whites

Landscape in black and white of Island in the Sky in the Canyonlands. Photograph in black and white by Amar Guillen, photographer artist.
Thursday, March 19, 2020 Written by
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“The Wrinkles of Time” – A Collection of Fine Art Photos in Shades of Blacks and Whites

Tree bark of a Fremont Cottonwood. Photograph in black and white by Amar Guillen, photographer artist.
Friday, March 27, 2020
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Why and How: Creating Wildlife Photographs in Black and White – Part 2

Click Here to Read the Previous Part of the Article.
Photograph in black and white of a waterbuck in Kenya. Photograph by Amar Guillen, photographer artist.
This photograph of a waterbuck in Kenya is well for a black and white photo.

Why Creating Animal Photographs in Black and White ?

Creating animal photos in black and white has many advantages. I will list some of them for you. These are the most important. I invite you to memorize them to use when you are in the field

  • Black and white allows you to create unique photos that convey emotions that cannot be found in color. This technique evokes more the mystery, the interrogation.

    As reality is always in color, black and white becomes an interpretation of what you see. It is an artistic form. As the color is removed, the viewer is forced to add his own emotions to the photographs.
  • Using color in photography is like writing a novel. You describe each element, each detail precisely.

    Black and white is like poetry : its strength does not come from what it is said but from everything that is suggested.
  • In black and white, the impact of wildlife photos is increased tenfold. The animal truly becomes the master of the game. The black and white technique places animal at the center of all the attention of the viewer: we only see him.

    On the contrary, color is very distracting for a viewer. Natural environments like foliage or blue skies will catch his look. They have more saturated and more intense colors than the ones of the animal. In the absence of color, look will be attracted to the essential: the animal.
  • Black and white is a perception and an interpretation of reality. On the contrary, the color is adapted to the descriptive scenes.

    As it is an interpretation of what you see, you can more easily express your emotions, send messages. Of course, black and white can be descriptive. Art photography in general may be descriptive. You can show exceptional animal behavior. But you must always have a good reason. You must justify it with your photographic vision.
  • Black and white makes it possible to highlight the animal which is the main photographic element. The space around him is less important.
  • Black and white emphasizes details and light. This is what you are looking to do in wildlife photography. Do not forget that in black and white you must favor lines, shapes, textures and contrasts.
  • Black and white is timeless. It is always difficult to date a black and white photograph unless external elements suggest the time. Color is often linked to a time or an era.
  • It is always possible to create black and white photos throughout the day even if the sun is at its zenith. For the best color, the beginning of the morning or the end of the day unless the skies are covered. Color does not like highlights.
  • It is always possible to create black and white photos throughout the day even if the sun is at its zenith. For the best color, the beginning of the morning or the end of the day unless the skies are covered. Color does not like highlights.
  • The cloudy and dark skies can produce beautiful black and white photos. These atmospheres enhance the textures and details of the plumage or coat.

    This is not the case in color because you need a grazing light to highlight these elements.
  • Today most cameras allow you to view black and white photos either before shooting or after. All it takes is a simple setting.

    Certainly, the result is not up to what you will get with your photo on the computer, but you will have an excellent idea of the final result. Do not forget to check if you have that feature when you buy a new camera body.

How Creating Wildlife Photographs in Black and White?

Whether in the field or in post-production, you should always think in black and white. I will give you a small, non-exhaustive list of tips for getting the most out of creative black and white wildlife photography.

  • Photographing in RAW mode. In the early post processing, you will always accurately adjust the white balance and the exposure of your images. If your photo is in JPEG format, you will always adjust on these two parameters, but you will not have the precision you have in RAW format.

    The RAW format is a format which exploits all the possibilities of your camera's sensor. JPEG is a compressed format. He loses details.

    The RAW format will always give more depth to your wildlife photographs.
  • You always must have a plan before your photo project or your photo session. You must know what you want to do and what you are going to do. Never forget that if you do not know where you want to go, you will have no chance of getting there. Mental preparation is essential.
  • Your compositions should be as simple as possible. They must highlight the animal. Remember that black and white is made to showcase the subjects (main photographic elements). It is a technique that does not distract the eyes. I advise you to use in addition the bokeh technique which will allow you to isolate the main subject even more from the background.
  • When possible, use either the high key or low-key technique to create special atmospheres and mood.

    The two techniques can be used when shooting by overexposing the highlights for the high key and under-exposing low lights for low-key.

    The development on your computer will allow to accentuate each of the two effects. The high key and the low-key photographic are processes which intervene throughout all the creation of an animal photograph in black and white.
  • When choosing ay decor to create a wildlife photographs in black and white, use green background and put the wild animal in the good light.

    During the post-processing, you will lower the brightness of the green layer: the background will become dark . This is one of the techniques I use for the low-key. Then, you have to bring out details in the dark areas to give depth to your photographs

To Continue Next Friday. Do not forget to come back.

Friday, March 20, 2020
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Why and How: Creating Wildlife Photographs in Black and White – Part 1

Have you ever wanted to create wildlife photographs that have impact and that convey real emotions? Have you ever wanted to go beyond the simple descriptive photo of an animal in the wild?

In this article I propose some tips, recipes for creating meaningful black and white photos.

If you are already using this creative technique, the ideas developed in this article will give you supplements.

If you are not a fan of black and white, you will discover an extraordinary universe without limit of creativity.

Young walia ibex photographed in black and white in Ethiopia. Photograph by Amar Guillen, photographer artist.
Young walia ibex photographed in black and white in Ethiopia.

The Little Story of This Article

My passion for the technique of black and white photography started with landscape photography. As I live in the United States, I often travel the mineral landscapes of Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, California and Nevada.

Showing in black and white the details, the shapes, the structures were quite easy and natural. This is how I developed my expertise in black and white.

In the fall of 2013, I decided to spend, like every year, three weeks to photograph the rut of the deer in France.

During this fall, summer had to play extra time. It was installed a little more permanently than in previous years. At the end of September, the foliage, the ferns were still a beautiful bright color. I had exceptional permission to take my photos on the Hennessy domain in Charente-Maritime.

As hunting was organized on specific dates, I could move freely and without fear of being mistaken for a wild animal.

I had spotted a very large clearing surrounded by hardwoods, which is quite rare in the region. The decor was perfect.

After several waiting sessions, I had the chance to photograph a big lonely re deer stag that came to bugle. Well hidden in my blind I made a magnificent series. He stayed more than three hours to bugle, graze and sleep. It was unexpected .

When I decided to develop the photos, I naturally chose the color.

The developed photos were very interesting, well-constructed, with magnificent decor and a beautiful light. But they were all classic. I had already seen them hundreds of times.

The series of six photos was spread out in front of me. I was satisfied but I could not feel the emotions generated by the power and the beauty of the animal. I returned to illustrative photography which I had abandoned three years ago.

It was then that I decided to convert them to black and white. I realized that I could darken the green color of the leaves in the background to enhance the shape of the animal.

I could easily highlight the dark orange coat of the deer stag by overexposing it a little more and create a better contrast.

The dodge and burn that I applied to the eyes allowed me to accentuate a fierce, wild and determined glance.

By applying a dark and gradual vignetting around the deer stag, I accentuated the contrasts even more. The red deer was really highlighted.

I applied the same development to the collection of six photos.  I had in front of me a set of coherent and consistent pictures. The photos were creative, different and unique. I had finally been able to photograph the bugle of the deer as I wanted. I finally felt the emotions I had had in the field. The wild beauty and the natural power of the animal were highlighted.

The technique of black and white had allowed me to create interesting pictures, different which had sense. It was my real beginnings in black and white wildlife photography. The years that followed proved to me that I had made the right choice and that I had found a way to express myself in wildlife photography. These are the elements that I will explain in the rest of the article.

The Qualities to Develop to Be a Wildlife Photographer

Before giving you tips for creating animal photos in black and white, it seems very important to me to list some qualities necessary to make good photos of wild animals in the field.

  • First of all, you must have a real passion for wildlife and its diversity. Never forget that you are taking good pictures of what you know well. Be curious: read books on the species that inspire you. Watch all the animal reports concerning the fields which interest you. The more you know about behaviors and animal habits, the better your photographic creations will be.
  • Never forget that a wild animal is unpredictable. Even if you are well prepared; you have learned as much as you can about a species, you will always have surprises. Nothing will ever be like you would have expected. A wild animal always reacts according to its primary instincts which are surviving, reproducing and eating. Try to anticipate the more you can.
  • Be a good observer. We live in cities, villages in which our collective life is organized according to our needs as human beings. Our senses have been developed in this urban and city environment.

    In nature everything is different. You must relearn to observe the signs of wildlife. The smells, the direction of the wind, the morning dew, the shape of the clouds, a bird's cry are some signs that can provide precious indications of what is going to happen.
  • Know how to improvise. You must be ready to face the unpredictable once on the ground, but you must also know how to improvise.

    For example, knowing how to create a blind in the field with leaves, a few branches, is an elementary act to realize photos of red deer or bear in Europe. Improvisation management can be learned. You should always train even if you find yourself in a situation you are mastering.
  • Always ask about the weather. Knowledge of the weather is a real asset for you. If it is raining you must have the clothes and the blind accordingly. The knowledge of the wind direction is essential. Wild animals always walk facing the wind to detect predators or a danger. Poor knowledge of weather conditions can lead to a disastrous photo session once in the field.
  • Respect nature and wild animals. In my opinion these are the two essential qualities of a good wildlife photographer. The more you respect nature and the animals you photograph, the more likely you are to blend in with the surroundings and become part of the environment around you.

    The more you show respect, the more you will get to know nature and blend in with the landscapes. The better your animal photos will be. Never disturb an animal to take a photo. Indeed, the frightened or constrained look of a wild animal never produces a good photo. More the attitude is natural more the picture is beautiful.
  • Be patient. With underwater photography, wildlife photography is one of the most difficult photographic fields to master. To create interesting pictures time is not measured in days, weeks or months. It is measured in years.
  • Knowing how to take sharp, well-composed and well-framed photos takes just a few days. But creating meaningful animal photos requires a great deal of self-knowledge, a lot of humility and patience.

Some Pictures of Wild Animals in Black and White

Why Creating Animal Photographs in Black and White ?

Click Here to Read the Next Part of the Article.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020 Written by
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“Lonely” – A Collection of Fine Art Photos in Shades of Blacks and Whites 

Conceptual photograph of stakes in a flooded meadow. Photograph in high key and black and white by Amar Guillen, photographer artist.
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