Monday, March 15, 2010

Black and White Photography

When I first started learning photography in high school, I was mostly self taught, and I shot everything on B&W film. It was the cheapest, and a buddy had a dark room in his basement. We learned to develop and print our own work. Most of us older folks that learned this way still have a strong affinity for B&W prints. I on the other had much preferred color photography. I simply could not afford the film and cost of sending everything to the lab. My reasoning was I see in color, and I always felt it was more realistic in my mind. When I got back into photography and started studying some of the master photographer's works in some of my college classes, I started re-thinking my opinion of B&W photography. Now I really look at everything I photograph and consider how it might look as a B&W print. The great thing about the digital dark room is the luxury of shooting everything in color, and making the conversion in a photo editing program. They have become so sophisticated that it is a snap to get a nice B&W conversion. Now I have many of my photos as both a color, and a B&W file. Since you know how much I love old barns, many of them get converted. The photo above is actually what is called a Double-sided Corn Crib. Each side held picked corn on the ear to dry in the slatted bins. A hay loft is above the corn cribs.
This is a street scene from Nashville TN. I though it made a good conversion to B&W here. Sometimes if the light was contrasty or the exposure range to great to get everything correct in a single shot, B&W seems to save some of those for me. This rail road bridge is a favorite B&W photo that I have printed to poster size. When I saw the bridge, I was already thinking B&W before I risked my neck climbing  up to get it. This bridge is in down town Nashville on Front St. and goes across the Cumberland River. I used a super wide angle of 10mm here and got right down on the ties and rails to create this composition. It was a cloudy overcast day, and this created a even better moody feeling sky for me. 

This old barn was photographed in Cades Cove, Smokey Mountain National Park. I was not happy with the color version due to a lot of filtered sunlight hitting the barn. When I converted it to B&W, I though it made a much better shot and the filtered sunlight did not  seem to be distracting. I have a much greater love and appreication for B&W photography now that I can have my cake and it it too.

Take Care,



  1. Awesome! Makes one ready to get a wideangle lens and try a some B&W.
    So now the question is, which wideangle to start with? A zoom, a fixed, 10, 18, 35 or something else? The 10 on the bridge is incredible and beautiful!
    Great job. Thanks, Dave.

  2. I was useing a 10-22mm zoom here. Fixed is always better, but who can afford a bag full of fixed prime lenses for every situation? :-(
    With the crop factor on most digital cameras, you need ultra wide to create this effect. The newest zooms are really much better now and keep good detail throughout their range.