Black and white photos are more than clicking a button on the computer take away color. If you make a photo with the intention of it being black and white (like the old film masters had to do), you pay attention to light, shadows, textures, etc. You then heighten that with special post-production editing. The result will hopefully tell the story that the photographer originally intended.
I'm still finding that diffused light makes it hard to take "interesting" pictures. This week I caught myself going for more interesting compositions rather than looking for light. Here are a few shots I captured on a cold day at the park this week.
It's a new month and a new light technique. In February, I'll be working with diffused light. This could be light tempered behind curtains, hazy or cloudy days, overcast or rainy skys and flat light. I hear that it's great light for taking portraits because of the lack of harsh shadows. However, I'm already noticing that my style of photography usually involves some distinct shadowing to draw the viewer's eye. So, here are my first experiments with flat light from an overcast day. In the first image, there are obviously a few shadows because we were inside but the light is pretty uninteresting. The second image is very flat and proved a challenge when I started editing because I kept trying to find shadows to boost. Hmm, well, I have a month to conquer diffused light. :)
At last, my last week on directional light. It's easy to get stuck in a rut of using window light (side light generally) so I wanted to challenge myself a bit. I spent the whole week looking for top light (noon pics, anyone?), bottom light (totally unflattering on people) and finally found something fun. Here are two different types of light. First is top light - sunny day at noon at the park. You can see the lack of shadows on his face and the darker shadow underneath him. He happened to also be sitting in shade so he didn't need to squint too much to look up.
If I were to choose my preferred light, I definitely don't prefer shooting at high noon. The contrast is usually too strong for my preferred type of "happy child shots" and the top light from the sun usually means that people's eyes are in the shadows or that they're squinting from the sun.
Second is my more "artsy" submission. This is side light from a window way across the room. I like how it only highlights his chubby baby cheeks.
We've got some more directional light this week, also from a window. This time, however, I closed all the windows in this room and only slightly cracked open one to the front-left of my boy (left of the bed in the pictures). The fun thing about window light is the strong fall-off. The light really close to the window is very strong but it gets dark very quickly. This is called the Inverse Square Law for those photography theory nerds. :) It works really well to isolate the subject in a busy setting (like a cluttered bedroom). While he's nice and bright, all the clutter behind him is in the shadows (and out of focus).
This year is all about light. Photography is about harnessing light and shadow to convey feelings or represent reality (or fantasy). What I learned during last year's photo-a-week project is that if I want to grow as a photographer than I must learn all about different types and quality of light and how to manipulate light for my intended photographic vision. This month I'm focusing on directional light. Directional light is simply light that is stronger on one side of the subject than the other. This could be light coming from the side of the subject, the top, even the back. The purpose of directional light is about creating interest using the light and shadows created by the strong light. The images below would not have had the same pull or interest if the light was flat throughout the entire image. It's the play between the shadows and the highlights that draw your eye to my daughter's cute face. This week I focused on side light. I had my daughter sit about 2 feet from the window so I could get some bright light on her left side and dark shadows on her right.