After sharing selected photos from my black and white portfolios in my last three blog posts (landscapes, nature's small scenes, and plants), I am going to turn to discussing tips for how nature photographers can create more compelling, interesting, and dynamic black and white photographs. While it is hard to distill years of reading, trial and error, and experimentation into a few bullet points, I consider the following ten items to be the most important things I have learned along the way in creating my photographs.
As I mentioned in my first post in this series, I generally feel more restrained when presenting a photograph in color. While I do not hold others to the same principles, I personally think that my color photographs need to be mostly grounded in the reality of the moment I experienced in the field. While working within this constraint is my choice, it does highly influence my work in a way that applies boundaries. With my color work, I often seek to portray simplicity, quietness, elegance, and contemplation. Many of my color photos are light and bright, or soft and quiet. With my black and white work, I often choose to portray drama, grandeur, and darkness in a way that just does not work for me when working in color.
With black and white photography, the constraints of conveying “reality” do not come into play since there is no reality conveyed in shades of gray. Thus, I can take an image file and create something that reflects my interests, visual preferences, and emotions about a scene or place in a much different way than I can with a color photograph. By shedding the expectations that come along with color photography, I have the opportunity to share my photographic concepts with greater latitude. For me, black and white photography feels like a more expansive pursuit than color photography because of the opportunities and creative freedoms I discuss below.Read More