Black and white photography is naturally simple to look at, and that is part of its charm. It narrows the image down to an expression of light and form. That doesn’t mean it is very simple to shoot, and it’s certainly not my forte.
The fact that monochrome is a more simple kind of image has helped me save a few photos from the bin. As I explained in the previous post, I quite often take a photo thinking about one point that I am trying to make or one visual that I’m trying to showcase. But then when I look at the photo on screen later, I can see that the eye is drawn to something else.
When Cropping won’t cut it
I’ve written several blogs about cropping photos and that’s a great way to polish a photo to look its best. What if I want to remove the distraction when it is in the main part of the photo? You might tell me to clone it out but although I’m pretty nifty with Photoshop, I’m not a magician.
Photographers Love Red
This photo of York railway station puts the grand arches on the diagonal, which I thought was going to be a strong composition. The problem here is the red shelter. Have you ever heard the expression “photographers love red”? Red is the ultimate jump-right-out-at-you colour in a photo. If you want to know what I mean, take a walk around the wall art section of Ikea. There you will find a lot of London buses and cola bottles fighting for your visual attention – for exactly this reason.
Remove the distraction of strong colour
OK I know this shelter is not very red, but I want to remove the distraction. Also the stone buildings and platforms are warm and their texture is too different from the arches.
There’s a very light area on a car roof too. I don’t want to crop all the edges out as that would lose context.I’ve turned the image black and white using a red filter preset and I’ve increased the contrast too. I’ve actually tried this both in Photoshop and in Lightroom and the results are similar. I think it makes for a much more punchy, architectural image. I’d love to know your thoughts on this result.
Making a shot less busy
A much more mundane photo of my camping kitchen appeared on this blog many months ago. It is in black and white for the simple reason that it is an awfully busy image full of junk. I don’t think it’s possible for a tent kitchen to look neat and tidy, and I don’t mind that. However I just did not think that the photo makes my point very well in colour because of the chaos. It is not a very good black and white photo either, but I reckon it does the job better that way.
Does monochrome remove the distraction in your opinion? I would love your feedback on this as I do wish I could use the shot in colour! Let me know in the comments or if you like, contact me via social media or email.