Seeing the World in Black and White

Another trend has been quietly sneaking up on me, during this opening month of the new year. In addition to my latest series, the desire to convert my images to black and white has slowly made its preference known. Over half the images posted for my 2012 365 project, have been black and white or monotone images. Something is definitely going on here. I have dabbled in black and white in the past. But this feels like something new.

Perhaps it’s the time of year. Winter, so often devoid of color, seems to be a natural time to explore the starkness and contrast offered by black and white processing.

Trees silhouetted against the gray winter sky, the rows of shorn cornstalks. The gray tones allow you to concentrate on the textures and lines, without the diversion of color. The image becomes a graphic statement of bare tree silhouettes and the rough carpet of stubble.

The black and white world outside my front door window. A day of swirling, blowing snow. Me, glad to be inside, in the warmth. There wasn’t much color in the original image – converting to black and white gave it a clean look, allowing you to focus on the texture of the icy-cold water droplets. The stark simplicity of this image is enhanced by the monotone treatment.

An architectural abstract. The conversion to black and white emphasized the optical illusion effect of the overlapping grills. The original image was primarily silvery gray, except for the yellow bricks in the bottom right corner. Since our eyes are attracted to areas of color first, desaturating this image kept the focus on the strong horizontal lines and that feeling of vertigo that I wanted to highlight.

Creating effective black and white images involves additional skills, both during image creation and in post-processing. I am still learning, still exploring this method of photographic expression.

What about you? Is black and white the way you are seeing your world these days?

Linking in with Mosaic Muse: Winter in Black and White


Here are some tutorials and tips from Digital Photography School if you would like to explore further:

How to Create a Black and White High Contrast Sky from a Color Image

5 Black and White Photography Tips 

Key Ingredients for Black and White Images

How to Convert Color Digital Images into Black and White Ones

Black And White Photography – What Subjects Are Best?

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Posted on January 20, 2012, in Photography and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I love the look of B&W and you’ve done a beautiful job with your B&W photos here. They are lovely. The first one is particularly striking.

  2. So striking! Stark, yet beautiful, and with black and white I always notice the shapes and negative space much more. Beautiful work!

  3. The black and whites make terrific graphic abstracts. I think – maybe – it’s because it’s winter..but maybe it’s new territory that you’re gravitating towards and itching to explore! Can’t wait to see where it all goes…

  4. These images are gorgeous, I love how the texture is emphasised by the b&w, especially in the landscape shot. I’ve started playing with b&w too and have been surprised by how much I like the results. Thank you for including those links, too. Love that first shot, the b&w is such a perfect choice for it.

  5. Black and whites really do emphasize texture and line. I love your front door window — lovely abstract! When I started photography I had my own darkroom (a closet), so I only did b&w…still enjoy seeing those images, especially since they don’t fade like color does. Thanks for including the tips, Brenda. Great post!

    p.s. I tried redoing all my settings on my blog — I guess the comment section still doesn’t work for you. 😦

  6. I love that first image. When I first saw it on Flickr, I thought it was one of your architectural abstracts, and was stunned when my vision (or my mind) suddenly “switched” and I realized what I was seeing. It’s really a joy to see all the new avenues and byways you are exploring, Brenda.

  7. i love it! thank you for sharing over at the mortal muse blog.
    : )

  8. Gorgeous shots, I especially love the water droplets on your front door window. I go through phases with black and white, every so often I find myself drawn to it. I love the level of detail that can appear when color is removed.

  9. Brenda, These are stunning! Each one is so beautiful, so striking, and so different. Amazing. I can’t wait to see more from your black and white adventures. ps. I think the first one is my favourite. 🙂 But, I love them all!

  10. I realize these weren’t necessarily easy to create, but the results are stunning. The b&w treatment simultaneously simplifies and enhances each image. My favorite is the third image–how nice that you could grab a photo and not have to go out in the weather!

  11. It’s all about lines and forms, with black and white. I really love that first image, the lines of the reflections overlapping the diagonal – just fantastic.

  12. You’re converting me to b&w! LOvely images here. Thanks for the links to the tips. I’ll be trying this soon.

  13. WHO CAN’T JUST LOVE BLACK AND WHITE. I THINK IT IS SOMETHING THAT WE JUST FORGET ABOUT AT TIMES. BUT SEEING YOUR BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLES, HELPS US TO REMIND OURSELVES TO CONVERT TO BLACK AND WHITE. MOSTLY I DO WITH WITH PHOTOS OF MY GRANDCHILDREN. I LOVE LOVE LOVE TO DO THEIR PHOTOS IN BLACK AND WHITE….THEY SEEM SO NATURAL AND WITHOUT PRETENSION.

    ANOTHER BENEFIT OF KAT’S CLASS IS FINDING OUT WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN PHOTOGRAPHING AND MAKING NOTE….SMILES: SHARON

  14. Wonderful black and white images.
    I love the graphic quality of the first one.
    Nicely done!

I greatly appreciate your comments!

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