Reasons to Shoot Black and White Part 1: High Contrast Photo

Reasons to Shoot Monochrome Part one, High contrast on Falcondale Life blog. A blog series about monochrome photography. Here's how I decide when to turn a photo from colour to black and white. The reason may be anything from finding real beauty in the image to saving it from the bin. First in the blog series is the high contrast photo. By Falcondalejan.

Reasons to Shoot Black and White Part one, High contrast on Falcondale Life blog. A blog series about monochrome photography. Here's how I decide when to turn a photo from colour to black and white. The reason may be anything from finding real beauty in the image to saving it from the bin. First in the blog series is the high contrast photo. By Falcondalejan.I’m starting a short series on black and white photography. I love colour best of all but monochrome has its place. It is where photography began from the moment of invention, but it’s not where most modern photographers specialize. There are various reasons why I personally choose to turn a photo black and white, and I’m going to blog about one at a time.

Some reasons to use monochrome are about improving the photo and really finding the soul of the image. Frankly, other reasons are more about saving an image from the bin.

Dancers at Blackpool Tower Ballroom

This photo was taken at an open session at Blackpool Tower Ballroom. It’s a beautiful ballroom in which members of the public can pay to dance. You can watch the dancers for free from the upper balconies. It looks like a thoroughly civilised way to spend a few hours and shake off the cobwebs. I shot this photo on a very windy afternoon when we were exploring the town on a weekend away.

Because there were so many whirling couples on the dancefloor, it was hard to get a nice pose without lots of flailing arms and legs in the background. This dancing pair moved off to the side which meant there was only shadow behind them.

A couple on the dancefloor at Blackpool Tower ballroom. A blog series about monochrome photography. Here's how I decide when to turn a photo from colour to black and white. The reason may be anything from finding real beauty in the image to saving it from the bin. First in the blog series is the high contrast photo. By Falcondalejan.

Making the most of a high contrast photo

The shadow makes a super diagonal line through the background of the image. The parquet floor emerges into the light as we “read” the image from left to right. The dancers are outlined in light. It’s already quite a dramatically lit image and to make the most of it, I turned it black and white.

This was a very positive reason to use monochrome. It’s about seeing drama and increasing it by turning it black and white. Light and shadow are both emphasized to make a dominant feature out of this high contrast photo.

Critique and Improvements

It would have been better if the woman was on the right. If you’ve ever done a cinematography course you will know that you should always put the female on the right. The problem here is more about her face being slightly in shadow, and yet she is the one with the lovely expressive smile.

All the same it’s a successful image and I would love to be able to give a print to this pair. Sadly I don’t know who they are.

A couple on the dancefloor at Blackpool Tower Ballroom, a dramatic image in black and white. A blog series about monochrome photography. Here's how I decide when to turn a photo from colour to black and white. The reason may be anything from finding real beauty in the image to saving it from the bin. First in the blog series is the high contrast photo. By Falcondalejan.

When was the last time you found some extra drama from a high contrast photo by turning it black and white? Let me know in the comments.

Read my previous series “Judging a Photograph” from the start.

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6 Comments

  1. 16th March 2018 / 3:43 pm

    I love monochrome although it’s usually just my iPhone photos I’m working on! I especially love black and white on photos with great texture, rocks, tree trunks and rusty railings!

    • 4th April 2018 / 1:31 pm

      Those sound like great subjects for black and white.

  2. 13th March 2018 / 12:10 pm

    Great tips, I love using monochrome to add drama to a photo

    Thank you for linking up to #MySundayPhoto

    • 13th March 2018 / 12:25 pm

      Thanks – it is satisfying when it works well.

  3. 11th March 2018 / 9:27 pm

    What a beautiful photo, I love both photos but the black and white one definitely creates more drama. #MySundayPhoto

    • 12th March 2018 / 1:32 pm

      Thank you, I’m glad you think it makes the point, that’s what I was hoping!

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