Friday, 23 August 2013

Images I Thought Looked Better in Black-and-white

I felt I could make an informed decision about whether a certain scene would look better in black-and-white before I had even taken a photo. This was for two reasons. Firstly, I had been familiarising myself with shooting in black-and-white so I was more used to the medium. The second reason, and one that greatly augmented the first was that I was able to 'see' the scene in black-and-white beforehand - as described in my post: Digital Photographic Practice Part 3 - Processing the image: Thoughts and Initial Ideas. My logic was that by using this approach and keeping the electronic viewfinder set to black-and-white to my eye for a day, I could have a better idea of the qualities black-and-white offered over colour.

   After shooting in black-and-white for a day, the outstanding impression I came away with was that shooting in this medium greatly enhanced my awareness of composition, particularly geometry. I found I was discovering relationships between objects or general shapes than I would have perceived in colour. This impacted on my creativity as I was looking at the world differently and normally ordinary scenes seemed worth photographing.

1. A circle surrounding a street performer
   The examples I have chosen to include are typical of a shape form and composition that I would probably have overlooked, had I not been familiar with black-and-white/been looking through an electronic viewfinder set to black-and-white. As a side note I found framing of the subject(s) in black-and-white was considerably easier than in colour.

2. A street performer and his background
   For the first photograph (Photograph 1) I came across a typical crowd in a circle shape surrounding a street performer. Of course, the circle wasn't really apparent at ground level so I managed to find a higher viewpoint to demonstrate the circle shape. By shooting in black-and-white the shape was more pronounced and the people surrounding the performer looked more collective as a crowd. I decided this was because all the different coloured clothes the crowd were wearing were no longer a distraction for the viewer. Lastly, I added a (quite subtle) vignette so the viewer's attention was focused more on the middle of the circle and particularly the street performer.

   The second example (Photograph 2) happened to be the same performer but this time the focus of attention was solely him, the background behind him and their relationship. I noticed the 'stripe' effect of the columns behind him were loosely reflected by his clothing. So there was a theme of vertical stripes, again a feature of the photograph I might have missed (and would have been less obvious to the viewer) had I not been shooting in black-and-white. I tried to make the similarity between his clothing and the columns more apparent by increasing the contrast in the columns so their pattern was more pronounced and adjusting the exposure of the performer's shirt and waistcoat so they matched the column.

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