When to use Black & White photography for extra impact

on Tuesday, 25 September 2012. Posted in N21 Experts

B&W photos have a timeless quality about them: they can enhance emotion and make the photo look more artistic.
When do I convert my photos to b&w?

1 When there is too much conflicting colour in a photo. In this case, you are concentrating more on the colours than the image.
2  When the photo contains elements such as: leading lines, patterns, and shapes. The photo appears more like a graphic image.
Black & White photography for Extra Impact - using the right lighting conditions
When the lighting conditions are right your photo will “jump” off the page. For this to happen - look for bright, sunny, contrasty days with directional sun light.
In this situation, I have 2 preferred lighting scenarios:
1  I put the sun behind my subject: result, a silhouette and a beautiful “glow” around the edges of my subject.
2  I put the sun at 90 degrees to my camera position, my camera is pointing at my subject. Again, this also creates a glow effect, and enhances the contrast between 
light and dark. 
In both case dark shadows are visible.
When the lighting conditions are overcast, there is little contrast and consequently your b&w photos will look “flat”.  In any image editing software, increase the contrast and your 
image will look more dramatic.
Contrast - the relationship between light and dark has a major impact on your black & white photos. 
Here is a selection of my personal photos.
Street painter, Hampstead High Street
 My main ‘point of interest’ is the painter and his painting.
I talked to my subject for a few minutes to build a relationship
and this rewarded me with this wonderful environmental portrait.
My main light source (the sun) is coming from the “2 o’clock” position.
The painter is partly lit by side lighting. And the painting is almost fully lit.
Note: This photo illustrates: lighting scenario 2 and tip 4.

Young Lady - South Bank Festival
I saw this young lady waiting in a queue and I thought I could take a good portrait of
her, if only the light was right. I knew she was moving forward, out of the shadows,
towards the stall in front of her. I walked behind the stall. Result - my main light
source (the sun) was now coming from a 90 degree angle. Look at the light / shade
on the girl’s left arm. There was also a soft second light on the stall pointing at my
subject. I cropped the photo to improve its composition.
Note: This photo illustrates: lighting scenario 2 and tip 2
Darken the edges of a picture to draw the viewers eye into the photo.
This photo isall about showing how tired the runners look and capturing the right light
on mysubject. (The 3rd runner from the right.)
Again, my main light source (the sun) is at a 2 o’clock position.
Note: !This photo illustrates: lighting scenario 2 and tip 3
 National Cross Country Championship Race - Hampstead Heath
The camera is pointing towards the sun, causing my ‘point of interest’ - the runners
and the trees - to become dark. As the sun is low in the sky, long shadows are
present in the foreground. The people to the right of the picture, in silhouette, are
back-lit by the sun. This picture is all about shapes and shadows.
Note. This photo illustrates: lighting scenario 1 and tip 1.


1 To get a usable camera “exposure” when the sun is directly behind your subject: over expose by +1 (or +1.5) stops or, walk up to you subject and meter from the subject’s face. 
2 Crop your image - to add impact
3 Add a vignette to the photo to make the edges darker and add a little Gaussian blur. (via your photo imaging software). This will help draw the viewers eyes into the picture.
4 Before taking your photo - stop and think - what direction is the light coming from.Then, adjust your position to make the light work for you.
I hope you found this interesting and if you have any questions please contact me.
Your local photographer - Tony Farrugia
Telephone: 020 8368 4911
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.FarrugiaWeddings.co.uk

B&W photos have a timeless quality about them: they can enhance emotion and make the photo look more artistic.

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