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Why and How: Creating Wildlife Photographs in Black and White – Part 3

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Photograph of a purple heron in black and white in la Dombes in France. Photograph by Amar Guillen, photographer artist.
Black and white is well-suited for photographs of birds, like this photo of a purple heron in La Dombes in France.

How Creating Wildlife Photographs in Black and White? (The End)

  • Cloudy skies are precious allies.

    Never forget that clouds are the language of the sky. When developing your photos on the computer, you must take special care with the clouds because they give depth to your photos.

    The main thing in black and white wildlife photography is the main subject. As the black and white is an interpretation of the scene you see, nothing prevents you to convey emotions messages. The clouds are there to help you.

    However, you will need to be careful in how you use them. They must help to highlight the animals. They are not the main photographic elements.
  • You can also use the patterns of a scene to highlight the animals. The patterns are based on repetition. In black and white, they are a precious ally. These patterns can be trees, leaves on the ground, and pebbles. The idea is to cover an area of the photo with patterns to guide the viewer's eye to the animal.
  • When you create an animal photograph, regardless of whether it is in black and white or not, you must always respect the fundamental rule of the line of sight.

    If you photograph above the line of sight, the viewer will have the impression that the meeting is artificial.

    In addition, you create a powerful relationship between you and the animal. If the gaze of the animal ends below your own gaze, you create a sense of domination. This is not what you want to show in wildlife photos.

    You may be like me and want to create a sense of respect between the animal and the viewer.

    Of course, for birds in flight, you will have trouble photographing them at eye level. But in this case, another creative technique will be used.
  • I also advise you to use the silhouette technique in black and white wildlife photography. In the gallery of images associated with this article, there are several examples. The silhouette is very symbolic because it can be evocative of many meanings. It can express a departure from reality into another world, an unspoken emotion, or private glance into the discrete life of the animal.

    To have the best possible photographic effect, the use of blacklight technique is ideal. It allows you to highlight the shapes of the animals.
  • In this paragraph devoted to how to create wildlife photos in black and white, I want to emphasize that if you use this creative technique, you must especially consider the shadows, highlights, and mid tones. When you are in the field, you can ignore the colors and their saturation. As I explained in another article, color saturation has no impact on a photo.
  • When creating animal pictures in black and white, you tell similar stories that you would tell in color, but with a different language. Black and white is more emotional and sentimental.
  • As I said in a previous paragraph, the creation of a black and white photo begins before the session, continues in the field, materializes during the development phase, and ends with the printing on paper.

    For the development phase, you will have the choice between many different computer software. My goal in this article is not to tell you which are the best and how to use them, because there are updates and changes yearly, causing a fluctuation in which is the best software.

    Nevertheless, it is beneficial if you remember the following points.

    Do not desaturate your photos to bring them to black and white.

    Use color adjustment to achieve the best rendering.

    Use the dodge and burn technique. It allows selective adjustments to be made. Use the curves to adjust the different tones.
  • The classic animal portrait is also an excellent technique for highlighting wild animals in black and white.

    In this case, I recommend the square framing. It is perfectly suited because it reinforces the development of the animal. You leave little space for the environment and the negative space. In the gallery associated with this article, you will see some examples of animal portraits.

  • The last tip on how to take black and white wildlife photos is to always create strong compositions, choose the textures well, have dynamic perspectives, and be careful when choosing your light.

Finally

In this article, I have listed many reasons for you to create black and white wildlife photographs.

It is a technique that allows you to create photos that have impact, meaning, and which accurately express your emotions and transmit your messages.

When you are on the field, experiencing this technique yourself, be sure to respect nature and animals, observe the surroundings before taking your photos, and always be aware of your compositions, perspectives, shapes, and textures.

Now, you must simply practice again and again.


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