Saturday, February 26, 2011

Black and White Progression

I find myself consciously buying into the concept of B&W photography, not universally, but selectively.  For subjects possessing little colour to start with or where the colour is incidental to the image, B&W enables much greater manipulation of the image before a transition to a visually "wrong" image.  Clearly subjects lacking colour need to possess other properties such as strong form or texture.

Aside from the exercises I have taken a look at a few recent architectural photos and done B&W conversions

The colour version of this image with the brilliant blue sky is one of favorite recent captures, however, converted to monochrome it takes on even greater power.  In the conversion I have almost completely darkened the blue, yielding a very dramatic black sky contrasting with the strong geometry of the building.  In this case both images have merit, I have no preference.  Another similar conversion is of an image of the Bavarian State Museum, again with a very strong blackening of the sky

This is less successful, the more complex structure of the museum is less amenable to the conversion, plus I have lost the rather marvelous colour in the image.  I think I have also overdone the darkness in the B&W image.

Other than some work on the computer, I have also been back to the Friedensengel to reshoot some of the images I created for Exercise 15.  First of all I took my 24mm perspective control lens to try and get some better structured images of the architecture of the monument:

A big change in how I look at photographs that B&W has driven is a step change in framing, somehow B&W works very well in a square or near square frame, I think this is because the square frame better supports highly geometric shapes.  After this I switched to a 100mm Macro for some details and telephoto shots, first the telephoto:

I particularly like this perspective with the staircases overlapping and the light at the bottom, however, the shot needs to be re-framed to bring the light lower and separate it visually from the balustrade behind it.  For that I will need to step back and use a longer focal length, 200mm will probably do the trick.

I then got in closer to the steps and starte to think about shape and form, in particular how the shadows cast by the buildings interact with the structure of the buildings:

The next shot is a simple attempt at a still life style composition, carefully composing the different elements of the image - not sure that this works?

Finally I have used the 100mm as a true Macro and moved in very close to some of the details in the iron work associated with the lamps.  B&W is very effective at revealing this detail without the confusion of the background.  In the first image the backing is a series of trees, the colour totally changes the impact of the shot.  I have also framed this as a classic 8x10, again I am finding that framing is flexible but also critical in the success of a B&W photograph, much more so than in colour.

Finally I got in very close and created this abstract, compositionally OK, but technically wrong.  I have shot at f/2.8 far too large an aperture at this range.  The diffused background is great, but the lack of focus on the loop of the iron work is distracting and spoils the image.  With a close up such as this even at f/8-f/16 the DOF will be very small and retain a diffuse background.

I am beginning to think about my goals for Assignment 3 and this study is a part of that process, my thought is to create a series of 8-10 images all in the same relatively small area say 100x100m, trying to capture the essence of a location.  I would try and vary the subject, scale, framing, and processing options to show the versatility of B&W and of course illustrate my learning. 

This is really scary stuff, B&W is beginning to weave its spell!

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