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Magazine
The World of Black-and-White

By Editor Miro Susta
Edited and published by Yvette Depaepe, the 26th of April 2024

 

Black-and-white: the opposites, but in perfect partnership.
A duo of classic colours evoking pure elegance, strong enough to convey a clear message with all their simplicity.

 

'Morning at Ra Gusela' by Lubos Balazovic

 

Black-and-white photography has a special atmosphere for me. To this day I am still turning over in my old family albums full of portraits of my parents, siblings, friends as well as of myself. They take me back to the past, and still have a special magic effect on me.

 

1949

 

Almost all the photos from my childhood and youth are in black-and-white. But that was a long time ago and is inextricably linked to my childhood and youth.

Since then, I have fallen in love with the beautiful interplay of the two colours and the contrasts that can enhance the power of the moment and the emotions.

 

'House in white' by Frank Peters

 

Although we live in the digital age, black-and-white photography is still based on analogue black-and-white film. In the past, the photographer simply inserted a roll of black-and-white negative film and that was it.

 

'London’s peanuts (Film)' by Didier Guibert

 

However, everything has completely changed with digital technology today. With one or two clicks the photographer can create a black-and-white photo from a colour one, achieving amazing control over the tones.

 

'The night walked down the sky…' by Yvette Depaepe

 

It makes sense to think in black-and-white before or during the photo capture, but the advantages of the final image quality are only noticeable during post-processing.

 

'The mirror of the clouds' by Aida Ianeva

 

The post-processing software uses the colour information captured at the time of shooting to allow the photographer to decide how dark or light each colour should be.

 

***Cloudy evening at the lake*** by Franz Engels

 

For example, some green tones in the landscape can be optimised so that they stand out darkly against the bright sky in the background.

 

'Eternity' by Thomas de Franzoni

 

Software programs manage this in diverse ways, but most have sliders for each colour (usually red, blue, green, yellow, etc.…), and when converting to black-and-white, the tone can be lightened or darkened by raising or lowering each colour slider.

 

'Winter is coming' by Lars van de Goor

 

For example, in the following landscape photo, three layers were created: green foreground, middle rocky and white mountains in the background, and the whole well separated from a grey and white sky.

 

'Alpine view' by Miro Susta    

 

In another photo, the photographer presents a landscape with a white waterfall, dark grass and rocks and a bright sky in the background in strong graphic contrast as black and white, whereas the same treatment of a colour image would look heavily over-processed.

 

'In search of Thrasi Thorolfsson’s treasure' by Cedric Leblond

 

Following few motif ideas for black-and-white photography.

 

LANDSCAPE
In landscape photography, black-and-white can be used very effectively to emphasise the texture and structure of rocks, trees and grasses.

 

'Dark Barrika' by Antonio Carrillo Lopez

 

Black-and-white is a particularly desirable choice for landscapes with strong contrasts between light and shadow.

 

'Ox Bow #2 in BW' by Matt Anderson

Cloud formations and skies also look dramatic in black-and-white.

 

 

ARCHITECTURE
In architectural photography, black-and-white can achieve a powerful effect. Building structures, lines and patterns can be visibly emphasised in black-and-white.

 

'Convergence' by Hans-Wolfgang Hawerkamp

 

High contrast and dramatic shadows give architectural photography a special atmosphere.

 

'Meaningful Cells' by Akira Takaue

 

 

STREET
Street photography benefits from the black-and-white colour combination, as it captures the mood and feeling of a sometimes extremely short scene very effectively without any other colour interfering with the effect.

 

'MAD Madrid' by Alejandro Marcos

 

 

'Involvement' by Didier Guibert

 

 

PORTRAIT
Black-and-white portraits are timeless, classy and elegant. The absence of colour draws the viewer's eye to the essentials: the face and expression of the person portrayed and emphasises emotions and character traits.

 

'Eri' by Miharu †

 

 

ACT ART
A beautiful representation of the black-and-white act photo, which can appear more feminine, is achieved with a large and diffuse light source that significantly minimises shadows.

 

'Miss July' by Dieter Plogmann

 

The best way to do this is for the light to come from the side at an angle from above. This makes the skin appear more even and the image looks friendlier due to the lower contrast.

 

'Art Nude Audition waiting room' by Colin Dixon

 

 

Three of the following photo editing techniques, which are closely linked to black and white photography, should not be forgotten.

 

SELECTIVE COLOURS
In selective colour techniques, one colour or a single-coloured object is displayed in a black-and-white picture.

 

'Roentgenium' by Holger Glaab

 

 

'Beauty Through Order' by Marsel van Oosten

 

 

HIGH KEY
High-key photography relates to a photographic style in which the picture is composed of light-coloured tones. Its objective is to create a very bright and almost overexposed photo that conveys a positive, bright mood.

 

'Lost' by Ales Komovec

 

 

LOW KEY
The low-key style is the exact opposite of the high-key photography technique. Here the photograph consists of dark tones. The very dark and high-contrast photos create a negative to dramatic mood.

 

'Waves of Ballerina' by Antonyus Bunjamin (Abe)

 

Black-and-white is an abstraction and the stripping away of the "real" colour - this opens the view to the essentials.

 

'Symmetry Art' by Miro Susta

 

The main benefit of black-and-white photography is that the photographer can play with light and shadow, how light and shadow contrast and co-exist within a composition to create a dramatic effect.

 

'of solitude and other demons' by Josefina Melo

 

 

'White Swan is Landing' by Angela Muliani Hartojo

 

The beauty of black-and-white photography is that the attention is focussed on the most important elements in the photo. The combination of black-and-white is the best way to show the blackness as well as the light and shadows.

 

'The Spy Who Loved Him' by Richard Bland

 

 

'Sunrise-Death Valley' by Wanghan Li

 

Taking black-and-white photos means focussing on the essentials.
"A subject that impresses with strong colours may be disappointing when presented in greyscale," says photographer and photography trainer Rolf Walther.

 

'Beauty of Reflection !' by Mrinal Nath

 

If you have any further ideas or suggestions on how to get the best out of black-and-white photography, please do not hesitate to comment!

mrsphoto.net
[email protected]

 

Write
Beautiful and a pleasure to read.
Great images.
Many thanks for your praise Chris
Thanks a lot, dear Miro and dear Yvette, for this wonderful and inspiring article!
You're welcome Franz, we are glad to see that you like it.
Good selection of B&W. Still has an allure. I think B&W is today a kind of Abstract image-making.
B&W will never die, will never disappear from photograph scene, many thanks for your nice comment dear William.
Wonderful article and amazing selection of pictures, so inspiring! Congratulations and thank you for sharing, dear Miro and dear Yvette! <3
We thank you very much for your nice praise and congratulations dear Gabriela
txules PRO
Fantastic selection; congrats to all
Thank you very much for nice praise.
This is a wonderful cross-section through the world of monochrome photography and a special honour for our beloved friend Miharu. Thank you very much, dear Miro.
Great thank you for lovely comment and nice price dear Urs, much appreciated.
Thank you for sharing this inspiring article.
you are most welcome Uwe, nice to see that you like it
Gorgeous captures Thank you for sharing.
Many thanks dear Pang Teng.
Thank you. It opens my eyes for B&W. I love it but use it seldom.
Many thanks for your comment dear Ineke, maybe you will start with B&W photography now. We wish you much success.
Un recull excel·lent de maneres d'interpretar la realitat en la subjectivitat de l'Univers en blanc i negre.
Muchas gracias por tu excelente y constructivo comentario querida Jordie, te lo agradecemos mucho.
My thanks for an exceptional article on a subject close to my heart. The inclusion of one of my shots is the icing on the cake. Kind Regards Richard Bland
We are glad to see that you like the article, thank you for your nice comment dear Richard.
Thank you very much for this excellent article. As usual, an inspiration.
You're most welcome dear Montserrat, we are glad to see that you like it.
I can't help but be moved by the many wonderful works including a portrait of Eri taken by Miharu.
Great thank you for your lovely comment dear Makoto.
Excelente
Muchas gracias estimado Jorge.
Excellent, Miro.
Many thanks dear Lourens.
A very nice and inspiring story. Very impressing and excellent black and white photos. ... And the photos turn the world into something new and special. A world we don't really see with our eyes and which needs to be expressed by the photographer. Thank you both very much for this collection and the article, Miro and Yvette.
Great thanks for your excellent and constructive comment dear Roland. We are really very happy to see that you like this article.
Great article, brings back many happy memories from the dark room!
You are right Patric, I also never forget the exiting time I spent with my father in bath-darkroom.
A wonderful and inspiring collection of photos. What I love about black and white is that the decision to convert to mono is already a departure from trying to photograph “reality”. That is a wonderful jumping-off point for me to make images even more otherworldly.
Agree with you dear Robert. Many thanks for your constructive comment. We greatly appreciate it.
An excellent article on Black & White Photography with selection of some of the wonderful images. Thanks a ton Miro and Yvette for your tremendous efforts.
Thank you very much for your nic words of encouragement dear Mrinal, we are happy to see that you like it.
Thank you so much for your very creative and inspiring article, dear Miro and Yvette.
You are most welcome dear Eiji, we are glad to see that you like it.
Appreciate very much the article about the B/W and your excellent selection of the wonderful works! Thanks Miro and Yvette to make it happen!
Great thanks for your wonderful comment dear Wanghan.
wonderful and much remarkable article with a fantastic selection of matching images. Thanks a lot to Miro and Yvette
Many thanks for your lovely words of praise dear Hans-Wolfgang, we greatly appreciate it.