B&W Photography

Started Jan 27, 2014 | Questions thread
Truman Prevatt
Truman Prevatt Veteran Member • Posts: 7,072
Re: B&W Photography

Excellent.  Another book I would recommend to anyone truly interested in B&W is the Daybooks of Edward Weston.

I would also recommend looking at - maybe at a library the images in Ansel Adam's "Yosemite and The Range of Light" and W. Eugene Smith's photo essay project, "Dream Street."

B&W is about form.  It is about light. It is about composition.  It is an abstraction of the world we see daily and it is an abstraction of what we seen in a viewfinder.  If you can't see in abstraction and see in B&W - no matter what camera or what S/W you have you will not produce good B&W photography.

Stuart001 wrote:

For me, the main difference between B&W and colour is in the perception of the object photographed. It may seem blatantly obvious, but in coloured images colour is the driving force; in B&W it is tone.

'Photographing' in B&W is NOT simply shooting in colour and converting it; to be done successfully it requires a different aesthetic approach. There are tons of books available on the subject, but the classics are still Ansel Adams's books, 'The Camera', 'The Negative' and 'The Print'. These are about film and chemicals, but the underlying thinking process is the same.

Adams, along with Minor White, Richard Zakia and Peter Lorenz, developed the 'zone' system for judging correct exposures. While it can be complicated, it teaches a person to see in black and white, to judge the tones to make a great image. The idea of 'zones' is just as important in digital photography--Silver Efex Pro, for instance (one of the best B&W conversion programs around) offers a preview of the 10 different zones in a B&W conversion.

It all comes down to measuring the light. And this is a round-a-bout way of saying that perhaps you do not need another camera, but you could perhaps use an off camera light meter. A spot-meter--the most accurate and the kind uggested by Adams--is more accurate than the in-camera meter and can be used to determine the light in a scene. Your current camera would be fine.

But if you want to buy another camera D700 would be great, but unnecessary. Remember that even when using film, the viewfinder is in colour and the scene is in colour. It was just that the film was made form light-sensitive silver halides, and could not reproduce colours. Once colour film came along many photographers changed the way they took their pictures and B&W became a different way to see the world. The best B&W still is.

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