Getting Creative! B&W

I would appreciate your opinion on a question I posed in yesterday’s blog entry. Please vote. It will help me figure out what to do with this blog. Thanks!

Self Portrait in Black and White
Self Portrait by Zombie Photography

There’s something alluring about the black and white format. It’s elegant, mysterious and dramatic. Stripped of distracting colors, you’re forced to see the image in terms of shapes and light and shadows.

It can be a bit difficult for beginners to tackle. The world is in color, and some people have a hard time envisioning it in black and white instead, which is a necessary skill to master this medium. I don’t claim to be a pro, but I enjoy shooting in b&w once in awhile.

I had a hard time picking just one photographer for today’s featured artist; there are so many wonderful b&w photographers out there. I ended up picking one of my favorites. Sally Mann: she is known for her contemporary works.

Sally Mann: Candy Cigarette

Your challenge this week is to create a b&w photograph.
Some tips:

  1. Don’t use the b&w setting on your camera (see explanation down below)
  2. Pay attention to the light.
  3. Keep the ISO as low as you can.


  1. Most digital cameras, if set to photograph in b&w, will convert images in a flat, dull way. You’ll lose the creative control in the post-processing stage. And what if you decide later that an image would’ve looked better in color?
  2. Light is oh, so important when you’re photographing in b/w. It helps define your main subject, and controls what your viewers see. In Sally Mann’s picture, the children are well lit while the background forest is dark and ill defined. If Sally Mann had wanted it to be lit, she would’ve chosen a different time of the day, either early morning or late afternoon for this shoot.
    When you photograph this week, pay attention to the light. Think about how it’ll ultimately look like when you convert it to b&w. Plan the shot – do you want it to be contrasty, with very little gray (eg my self portrait earlier in this post), or do you want a variation throughout the image?
  3. Low ISO – due to the nature of digital cameras, artificial noise is really nasty-looking when converted to B/W. If you’re after film grain effect, add it in after you’ve post-processed the image.

Check back in on Wednesday for the next post in the Flash series!