The first thing I hear when I mention Black and White to non-photographers is why shoot black and white now, when you can capture beautiful color with film or your digital cameras. Often, I do not even get into the discussion, because I know that it is a losing battle. This makes me wonder whether Black and White photography is slowly winding down, shriveling and dying? Most people seem to have changed their way of thinking about Black and White, and I think digital technology is partly at fault. So, if you think that Black and White Photography has no place in today’s world, please read on, and let me convince you otherwise. If you are planning a wedding, or another formal event, Black and White photography is something you are no doubt considering. As such it is important to understand why Black and White has been first choice for portraiture and event photographers for generations.
Many, many years ago, Black and White Photography was the only option, and photographers became masters of the craft of using Black and White films. They learned their properties, found their favorites, and shot some stunning scenery on Black and White film. Development techniques were being perfected, and masters spent hours in the darkroom to produce tinted prints, sepia prints, platinum, selenium and other types of Black and White photographs. As color was introduced many things changed. Black and White only allowed you to use the many shades of gray to paint a scene, set a mood, and invoke an emotion. This required a tremendous amount of skill, patience, and a lot of time. Unfortunately, as we are moving further into the 21st century, those of us who understand the legacy, and hidden beautify and desirable properties of Black and White are becoming more and more rare.
Advantages of B&W when shooting portraits
Now, if you are wondering whether or not you should have your wedding, reception, or just a family photo shot in B&W, consider these advantages which B&W offer over color. Color Photographs typically do very well at reproducing imperfections in facial complexions. Small blotches, red spots, irritated skin, all very fine details find themselves in color photography. On the other hand, Black and White masks these small imperfections, in essence smoothing out skin tones, softening facial features, and hiding paleness, which some people possess. Because skin tones are rendered through shades of gray, there is less contrast between someone with light skin and someone with dark skin. The real magic of Black and White though is not revealing true age. Because wrinkles and other skin and hair imperfections are subdued, people’s true age is typically disguised. For years, this made B&W prime choice for Weddings, Receptions, and other formal events. Portraits are more flattering, and feel more natural when captured in B&W. When diffusion filters are used, portraits appear even softer and smoother in B&W.
To summarize, B&W offers the following:
It is one thing to photograph a model in a studio, unfortunately wedding and most event photography is shot on location, with often little to no flexibility of controlling light. We all have seen stunning shots of brides and parties in wedding magazines, unfortunately these shots took hours to produce in the studio, where light is controlled precisely, and every aspect of the scene is monitored, and adjusted. This is simply not possible in real life, and most photographers will not spend enough time to make sure that every aspect of every shot is ideal. We cannot control whether, or light, and at times the sun, or indoor lighting simply does not want to play its part. B&W whether film or shot and converted digitally, is much more forgiving of this than color. You are more likely to get a good B&W image of a scene with less than ideal lighting than you would color.
If you are still unsure about having Black and White photographs in your wedding or other event album, or you think that Black and White belongs in the past, please consider just how flexible B&W photography really is, and try to discover the beautify of Black and White for yourself. It would be wrong to say that in Black and White photos there is absence of color. Colors are simply expressed through levels of Gray. Pure Blacks and Whites contribute to the beauty of the image. Blacks create strong shadows, and whites highlights. For dramatic scenes, Black and White is hard to beat. Contrast and Detail in Black and White photographs can often be much higher than in color, yet it is not distracting to the eye. Lastly, B&W photography has that timeless property. It reminds us of the days past, the simpler times, when minimalist living was most common. Remember, you do not need to have your photographs captured in B&W to get them printed in B&W. Good color photographs will convert to excellent B&W. Conversion process is unique to every photographer. Just be sure it is customized to your needs, and each photograph is handled individually.
Written by Professional Photographer, who recently started an Online Photographer Community, to allow photographers freedom to share their most favorite shooting locations, regardless of the subject matter and place. Consider joining this community, if you would like to contribute your favorite locations, as well as discover new places from other members. To learn more, please visit [www.worldonpaper.com]
For a bit of fun check out – Trick Photography
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