What about black and white? Light and shadow contrast. Chapter 4.

In chapter 1, chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of this series of posts I showed photographs that do not lend themselves well to black and white conversion because they rely on colors and saturation for the separation of the main elements in the composition.

The point I wanted to make is that not all photographs will be improved by black and white conversion, and it helps the photographer to know which ones work and which ones don’t, if black and white is the goal. After all, who wants to waste a precious photography outing?

One desirable characteristic to look for in compositions meant for black and white conversion is high-contrast and deep shadows.

Although strong shadows is not really a characteristic of what I see as my “style”, I do have some older photos to show below. These photographs are part of my “Light and Shadows” collection, which is exclusively in black and white. Uploading those images in color would not make sense to me, since I find the black and white versions more appealing.

Question for my followers: besides the presence of high contrast between light and shadow, can you identify other elements in the above photographs that make them obvious candidates for black and white?

The FEATURED PHOTOGRAPH was taken at Fort Point, SF (40mm, f/8, 1/100s, ISO 400) in 2018. It was a nice chili and cloudly morning in San Francisco. A friend had failed taking long exposure shots of the ocean with the Golden Gate Bridge, the wind was fierce. Inside the fort was pleasant, shielded from the wind. Suddenly the sun came out and upon seeing these shadows, I took the photo. Tunnel vision, 2028, was featured at Gallery 625 in Woodland, CA, as part of the exhibit, Light Shadow, Reflection in 2020.


Wall Art Botanical Images

Wall Art Photography projects

Wall Art Landscapes


18 thoughts on “What about black and white? Light and shadow contrast. Chapter 4.

  1. WritingfromtheheartwithBrian says:

    Thanks Alessandra, I love the discussion on black-and-white versus color. I’m always fascinated by the choices to go with each. In my own photographs, I find that I search as you mention for high contrast for B&W. I think too that some topics just work better in B&W. A number of years ago, a coworker and I did a series on the decision to close a federal base, it just seemed to work best without the color. Love these images. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Steve Schwartzman says:

    I agree that high-contrast pictures with patterns and shadows generally lend themselves to black-and-white conversion. That said, the original color versions of these three photographs still appeal to me as well.


  3. petespringerauthor says:

    Each of the three black-and-white photos appeals more to me, especially the last one. I’m not a photographer, but it seems to me that things with unusual angles work well in black and white.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. shoreacres says:

    While I prefer the first in the series of three images as a black and white, for me it’s a matter of eliminating that sickly yellow, and better showing the crispness of the shadow. With the next two, I much prefer the sepia versions. Both ‘Shadow Gate’ and ‘Tunnel Vision’ seem more inviting: less flat, with clearer detail.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. howg2211 says:

    Great photos. As others have said, strong graphic patterns make for nice black and white images. Combine that with high contrast as you have done in the examples and you’ve got some winners!


  6. christianmeermann says:

    I have been working in black & white exclusively since 2016. It has been a constant learning process … and I am still learning. And it pays off: Quite often, when after months or years I return to an old image I couldn’t get to work in in black&white back then, I happen to find the right combination.
    This is why I find the question misleading because it implies that a photo has to meet certain conditions or criteria to function well in black&white. In my mind, however, every image has the potential to work well in black&white. We only have to find the way to make it work… to find the one combination of black&white tones and contrast values the image needs. Of course, for some photos this combination is easier to find than for others, but I strongly believe there is one for every photograph.

    Liked by 1 person

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