Black and white photo of a man in a turban
My photography,  Photographic techniques,  Sunday Stills,  Themed galleries

Gallery: Seeing the world in black and white

The world as we see it is full of colour. So it may seem counter-intuitive to take black and white photos, but by draining an image of colour you can draw attention to its other qualities. Texture, contrasting tones, patterns and shapes can all be more apparent in a monochrome shot.

I have already used my featured photo elsewhere in this blog, in its original colour version, and it’s one of my favourites. But I love this this edit too. It emphasises the textures of the man’s face rather than the colours of skin and turban, giving more focus to his character and perhaps less to his surroundings.

Color is descriptive. Black and white is interpretive.

Elliott Erwitt, French/American photographer

My very first photos were of necessity in black and white but as soon as I got my first 35mm camera and switched to slide film, I started to capture the world in colour. It is only in recent years, with the advent of digital photography, that I have started to experiment with black and white again, for selective shots.

Here, in response to this week’s Sunday Stills challenge, are some of my recent favourites. A few were taken using the black and white setting on my camera, but most were produced from a full colour original by editing in Photoshop Elements. My favourite tool for this is the Nik Collection plug-in Silver Efex Pro. If you haven’t tried that do check it out as it’s incredibly versatile. There are 38 pre-sets ranging from a standard transformation through high or low key to sepia and effects such as ‘film noire’, silhouette and ‘fine art’. And all of them can be tweaked and customised.

Some black and white favourites

Dried seed-head
Seed-head
Face of a Tawny Eagle, monochrome
Tawny Eagle
Old warehouses in black and white
In the Riga Jewish ghetto quarter
Curved modern building in glass and metal
The Sage, Gateshead
Battered timbers of an old boat, monochrome
Old boat, Dungeness
Black and white photo of outdoor cafe
In Lucca
Monochrome photo of old window
Window in Reykjavik
Black and white photo of an elephant
Elephant gaze, Chobe National Park
Three tourists taking photo with selfie stick
Selfies by Tower Bridge, London
Black and white photo of a bride
Wedding photo shoot at the HCMC Museum in Saigon
Black and white photo of a gorilla's face
Gorilla at Jersey Zoo
Black and white photo of a man in a turban smoking
At Jodhpur Fort

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