If you had a look at my portfolio, you undoubtedly noticed I love color.
But I’d like to be able to take good black & white photographs as well. Black & white is really popular amongst musicians, and since I do music photography, I’d like to be able to serve my clients better. And it’s always good to get out of your comfort zone. That’s how you progress.
Ironically, the digital revolution has been good to black & white photography, because in the digital darkroom one has much more control over the conversion process from a color to a monochrome image.
David Nightingale of Chromasia is a world expert in post-processing in general and black & white photography in particular. He is also a former academic turned photographer. What’s not to like about him? So I never thought twice about taking David’s online class “The Art of Black & White Photography”, and it was well worth it. But I needed some more practice after the class to better assimilate some of the material, and experiment on my own.
So I called on my muse, Maria. I have done more personal shoots with her than with anyone else. Not only does she photograph very well, but Maria has a wonderful personality and lots of ideas. For a long time, she had wanted to do a shoot in South Queensferry with the Forth Bridge as the background. I’m always on the lookout for new locations, and since I had never done a photo shoot there, I was very happy to try.
One type of picture I really like in black & white is high key portraits. On the day, the sky was overcast (welcome to Scotland!), so it would provide a light if not blown out background when the model’s face was correctly exposed. The wind was blowing as well, so we used it to our advantage to get the following shot:
Black & white is wonderful for creating moody, atmospheric photographs. I think that is one of the main reasons black & white appeals to musicians. I also learned from David Nightingale some great tips for toning black & white photographs, i.e adding just a touch of color. In the next set up, we set out to produce some moody images, with off camera lighting. I quite like the picture below:
Old habits die hard, and since Maria had brought a beautiful red dress, I just had get some color pictures.
It’s essential to give direction to the people you photograph, since they cannot see what you see through the lens. But with people who are comfortable in front of the camera, like Maria, you can give them some freedom to express themselves, and they will surprise you with the results. The photograph below is one of my most popular images on Model Mayhem: