Black and White is a very popular way to show your images. When you look at other photography blogs, I don’t know how many times I see images that have been converted into black and white. Sometimes they work as an image, sometimes they don’t. There seems to be this general impression, convert it to black and white and you will have a great image. Not true.
The other thing I see is many black and white images, well, they are meant to be black and white, but the truth is they are more gray than black and white. Many photographers out there converting their images don’t comprehend the basics of what makes a good image this way, or know how to do it. Just for fun I often copy the black and white image from someone’s blog and then edit it to make it better, always helps me.
The main rule for black and white images:
There should always be a black and there should always be a white.
When your computer converts an image it makes everything grey, or as much as possible. It doesn’t put in the contrast for you. You can’t just go convert to greyscale and leave it at that.
Here is a image I did that too:
I used GIMP for this image, more on that later. I opened the image and just converted it to greyscale. I have done nothing else to it. Does it look alright? Yeah, it looks ok, but to me it is washout, too grey, I would like to see more contrast.
I put in more contrast, now there are more tones, more blacks and more whites. I think this works so much better and all I did was change the contrast. Simple. Took me about another minute after converting it.
Using Photoshop is a little more complicated, but you get to do a whole lot more to your images. I now prefer it over GIMP, but GIMP is great for someone starting out who doesn’t know a lot and doesn’t have the time to learn Photoshop. The other thing that is fantastic about GIMP is that it is free and you can download it from the website, go here and take a look.
This next image you have seen before:
A colour version is my header for this blog. It is one of my favourite photos taken this year and will be in my exhibition next year. The above image is a straight conversion, I opened the image in Photoshop and then pressed the layer for black and white. This is what I got.
Again, it is an OK image, but it has lost of the appeal that was there in the colour image, the late afternoon glow. It is a very flat image now. It needs more work,
The clouds have more detail, you can see the glow on the station. All I really did here was change the tonal values for each colour. I was able to change what I wanted to get the image I was after. I think you would have to admit that this is a far better image. I still think it is much better in colour, but I don’t mind this too much.
So if you are converting your images into black and white ask yourself if it can be make better. I used to have a lecturer at art school that used to say “to learn and make better artwork you have to be prepared to f*** it up”. I think that is true, try stuff, you can always delete stuff if you have to. Make a copy of the image you are going to play with so you never lose the original.
If you have an image that you would like to see if it can be improved, then send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will see if I can help.
Off to the Mornington Peninsula this afternoon. Looking forward to getting away. Hopefully will be able to post some images while I am there. I hope you all have a good weekend clicking away. Let me know what you get .