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.
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.
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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