Thursday, June 14, 2012

Project: Seeing Things in Black and White

     Ever since I got into photography, I started getting more and more skeptical of B&W images.  I appreciate the art of it and I even like them done on my pictures.  The problem is, in most cases, I feel it's like band-aid.  Convert a lousy image to black-and-white and it looks better already.  And it feels like so when I take a picture without the initial thought of setting it to monochrome.

     With that thought, I forced myself to avoid converting my images whenever I start editing them.  It is very tempting to see how it looks.  It felt like an addiction.  But I got to force myself out of it.  I can almost say, "It's liberating." but it might imply I got something against B&W.  That is absolutely not true.

     Time went by and I begin to appreciate colors as it should.  I genuinely feel what Brian Peterson keep shouting on his video tutorials.  "Amazing colors!" he'd say.  So even when shooting street, regardless of my pictures quality, I stick to colored.  Most street photography are converted to B&W and I understand why.  But It makes me wince whenever I attempt to do so on mine because the colors would be such a waste.

     But then here comes some of my Flickr friends showing black-and-white pictures after the other.  Although I honestly like them, I got worried that I can not appreciate them much.  It got alarming when I look at their new sets of pictures and said, "Uff!  Another band-aid black-and-white."  This is very unfair.  It is not my pictures and I can never tell whether they intended it to be monochrome or just the way I feel.  Either which, it is still unfair not to appreciate the image because of my depreciation with such images.

     I decided to convert myself.  I have to be flexible.  I have to produce someB&W pictures.  Only this time, it should not be a band-aid.  I figured, I'll have to "see" things in black and white.  Take pictures of them seeing no colors.  Only shades, depth, and texture.  It might sound simple.  But tricking my eyes to disregard color was actually hard.

I started with the most familiar territory.  Cityscape makes complicated lights that it's easier to ignore colors.  Night time helps a lot too as there are constant shadows and permanent lights.  It always amuses me when I see people stopping by and stare at me, trying to figure out why the hell am I taking pictures of such.  Some just don't get it.  Some make up stories just to satisfy their curiosity.  I can tell.  I over hear them.  But the best reaction I get is when they stop by to ask.

Bridge to Nowhere
I passed by this bridge and simply liked the way the light strikes this bridge.  Seeing no one around, I got too comfortable spending too much time lying on the ground taking pictures.  Little did I know that joggers were waiting behind me to finish what I'm doing.

Ask and it shall be done.
One of my superiors were having some family time this day.  As I pass by, he asked me to take pictures as this kid likes to be in front of the camera all the time.  I hate kids and I'm not so fond of the old guy either.  But this is my chance to get more experience on spontaneous shooting of random people... willing people.

Snap Snap Snap
Street-style portraits should be easy especially on black and white.  Or so I thought.  I'm still not used to working fast.  These people are not models whom I can make them hold their pose for as long as I want.  The demand of shooting fast is stressful enough that I threw away composition.

     There is one certain B&W effect that I recently came across and am interested to replicate.  It has a Japanese calligraphy feel, or one of those dividers with oriental black painting.  At first I thought simple silhouette shots would do the trick.  I was wrong.  And then went on to shooting patterns.  That didn't work out the way I wanted either.  But I'm running out of ideas and subjects to apply this kind of B&W.  
It's on the final parts of this video.  But watch the whole thing.  It's entertaining as well:

     I gave myself just a week to do this.  I just want to refresh my love for Black and White.  I do love them.  I just lost my way on some ideals approaching it.  On the last day, I found myself seeing more texture, depth, and shapes of light.  I don't see them immediately but I can render some ideas without much struggle anymore.  I still need to learn more about this.  But at least there are some pictures I appreciated from this experience.

Brain Dead
This dragonfly is actually dead.  I found it on the floor at work and just put it on a brush, then clicked away.  Now I'm not so fond of setting things up like a studio shoot.  But this is as close to a live one I can find right now.

     There's one more photo that I want to include, although it was taken much earlier than this project.  I saw a stump planted on a pot and its shape immediately caught my eyes.  When I took it, I was amazed by the colors in the background.  But I was trying to avoid any direction to them.  So I had to blacken them all out to showcase what really got me to take this picture.

Little Girl
At a different angle, I saw a dancing lady clothed with some Korean traditional costume, the ones with the very long sleeves.  But when I went closer and tighter as this shot, I saw a little girl picking up her doll.

     The black and white conversion on the above image is close to something I want to try.  The problem is, I can't identify nor can I describe the name of such an effect.  I've been going around Google in hopes to find an example of what I want, but so far, there's none.  So maybe it'll be an assignment for me.  A quest to find that particular B&W effect and produce a good picture with it.


  1. Love it! I am easy to be pleased actually and all of the photos here u put are amazing!... I saw the image there at the last shoot and saw the little girl picking her doll, cute and the first photo 'the city at night' u title it "wedged", it is so cool really like it... I was like I envy you and then I watched the video entertaining u say and funny, I do that to my old nokia (1.8megapixel) LOL! to make more livelier I do B&W :)... And really fond of B&W ever since and you make more interesting, I appreciate it more...

  2. It's beautiful, B&W is an excellent choice for a color the creativity will portrait the inner secret beauty that lies behind the medium or model used...I love this macro shot of dragonfly and that branch of a tree that considere as a litle girl dancing. It's amazing and creative images ... excellent job...

    1. Thank you very much for taking your time to read my article and commenting. This experience did open my eyes to more possibilities when shooting.