Learn self-expression and interpretation using these black and white photography techniques.
This is not to say that the same learning process is not offered in color or digital photography, but by removing the color from your images, you take them one step from the depiction as a simple likeness. They are now unlike the world as we all see it around us. This is where knowing a bit about composition and the elements of photography comes in. You are in essence designing your images. The black and white photography techniques outlined here will help you create some amazing pictures.
First, I must say that it does not matter whether the photo is black and white or color, digital or traditional, the success of the image depends on the photographer’s aesthetic sensitivity to capture the nature of the subject, or his or her perception, vision and imagination.
The Rule of Thirds
One important design element, and black white photography technique is the use of the rule of thirds. This means that you want to position your subject into one third of the view finder, either vertically or horizontally. Stay away from centering your subject. This technique will help to create balance as well as focus on the important information in the frame.
Framing Your Image
Framing the image well is another important black and white photography techniques. Make sure that you fill your frame well with the subject matter. For example, if your subject is a candle sitting on a table in a room, get close to the candle, using a large aperture and focusing sharply on the candle, will blur out the rest of the room, which is not what you want to bring to the viewers attention.
Your technical ability to select the best aperture and shutter speed, the most appropriate viewpoint, and focal length and the right moment to release the shutter is something that you will need to give plenty of practice.
Keep in my your intention. In other words, what is the point of the photo? What do you want the viewer to understand or recognize? What is the story you are telling, visually? Practicing using your aperture and shutter speed to make the image come out as you have intended. This is not a time to have your camera on auto settings. You will need to use the manual settings in order to have the control you will need.
It is important that you take control. Learn how to use your camera properly. Whether you are shooting film and end up in the darkroom or using a digital camera and computer, you need to be in control from the negative to the computer output. This way you are able to manipulate the tonal range yourself–the shades of grey between black and white, which is very important in black and white photography.
More Techniques to Keep The Viewers Attention
Once color is not involved in a photograph, you will need to play up other details help keep the viewers interest. These are some examples:
Play Up Texture–Surface texture gives you the sense that the picture you are looking at has a tactile quality and so helps you to imagine what it would be like if you could reach out and touch what is depicted.
Lead The Eye–Lead your viewer’s eye by linking the subjects elements by lines occurring naturally in the scene, such as a flight of steps and balustrade, leading to something you wish to stress.
Framing The Subject–Strengthening the photograph can be as simple as choosing a camera angle that shows the main subject framed by other elements of the composition. Often times, all you need to do is shift your camera position until they and the subject align properly when seen through the camera’s viewfinder.
When implementing these black and white photography techniques, try grasping just one or two at a time. You will see how each one will make your photographs ‘pop’ in a unexpected and unique way. Happy shooting.
About the Author:
Mary E. Foster, MFA, is a professional photographic artist and educator (www.photography-tips-and-resources.com). She enjoys teaching as well as working with all aspects of photography, from developing film, and making black and white prints in her darkroom to shooting digital imagery and editing it on the computer.
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