The Language of Light in Black and White Photography
London has bathed in amazing sunshine over the last few days as we head into Spring, leaving Winter far behind. This light is great for black and white photography as everything is fully illuminated and contrasts are strong. I prefer to shoot a little later in the day as the softer light gently illuminates subjects and shadows become longer as mid-day passes. In this photo the tonal range varies from light, mid to dark tones. The shadows of the railings cast a definite pattern on the tree and move gently towards us as the shadows fall to the ground. The railings appear shiny in the illumination which adds a smooth surface in contrast to the organic textures of the tree trunk and gravel on the ground. Deep blue skies create rich mid tones, which you can just see in the background behind the tree. There are a few fluffy clouds adding a few lights to the background. This is the language of light which adds emotional resonance to black and white photography.
Being able to visualise in black and white is an advantage as you can imagine what the scene looks like without colour. With present day DSLRs and compacts you can preview in black and white by setting your picture control to monochrome. Black and white achieves an additional dynamic edge if you have dramatic contrasts. When the sun shines I am not always interested in capturing those heady blue skies. My interest lies in the emotional resonances within a scene guiding me to the point of capture and click of the shutter.
Lou Smith is a Fine Art Photographer with over 30 years experience in the visual arts and is a Fine Artist specialising in photography and painting. She is an experienced tutor and teaches photography in London. Take a look at the photography courses page.
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