Black and White

10 Dec

Why would you want to get rid of an essential part of information by converting it from colour to black and white (b/w)? I think you have to look at it from a historical point of view. Before you had the choice between colour or b/w photography there was only b/w if you ignore the fact that pinhole-“cameras” are thought to have been used when painting landscapes.

As it is described in the coursematerial b/w photography was understood to be an “interpretation of a scene into a very specific medium, dominated by tones.” Colourphotography on the other hand believes more to be “capturing reality in two dimensions”.

The advantage with b/w photography is that there is no colour that can distract the beholders eyes and leaves the composition, geometrical forms and textures speaking for itself in a stronger language.
Well used in documentary photography to have more focus on the subject. Maybe used in architectural photography when taking images where the shape is the interesting thing. Abstract images, sure.
The classic use is I guess even portrait photography where the absence of colour stresses even more the features and expression of the subject.

In our course material for DPP on page 71 is a valuable comparison between creative concern in colour and b/w photography.


  • Contrast
  • Key (brightness)
  • Geometry
  • Volume
  • Texture
  • Colour into tone


  • Colour effect of exposure
  • Colour style
  • Colour relationshsip
  • Colour intensity

The pictures down here were taken in Northern Scandinavia. The first during a reindeerseparation and the second while visiting the North Cape.

When taking the pictures I thought that they would make very nice b/w images.  Sky with clouds, strong colours and the combination with clear geometrical forms such as the houses and the fact that they are old made me think of black and white conversion.

This first picture was framed according to the rule of thirds, horizon being in the lower third as the sky was beautiful with nice clouds. I had no special thoughts about the exposure but did quite a bit of editing using the black&white mixing tool in Lightroom. My thoughts were to darken the sky, leaving the clouds white/ light grey. The house became a bit lighter, raising luminance for the reds. At the same time some darkening of the green/brown colours to get more contrast between the house and ground whereupon it stands.


The next picture is taken in Northern Norway and we stopped to take pictures of drying cod and just a few meters away was this nice cottage.

Framing again according to the rule of thirds and the geometrical figures found here are the horizon, the lines of the house leading the view into the frame and of course the triangle of the roof.

Main work was done again with the b&w mixing tool, raising the contrast in the sky and changing from a beautiful and sunny day to a bit more stormy feeling to it. The house was not as seperated from its backgroudn as I wanted to be and that was fixed with help of b&w mixing and dodging.


This last picture shows another genre of photos, abstract nature photography. It was a sunny day and we were in a forest on an island in the local archipelago. I liked the colours and the drops on the leaves but when I got home it did not match the association and feelings I had for the plant. The thought struck me to try b&w as the picture was abstract, with clear lines and diagonals as well as dots/circles to make it interesting.

The editing was the conversion into b&w, increasing contrast and decreasing exposure. That way the drops stood out a bit to break the structure of diagonals.



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