Black and White and Monochrome Photography has always been one of my favorites. I think that B&W brings a photo back to purity. I don’t know how to explain it differently. In B&W Photography the use of light and darkness is very important. It can make a photo stronger.
Today, in the digital area, it’s quite easy to turn a color photo to black and white or monochrome due to all the available Photo Editing Programs like Adobe Photoshop (the Bible of photo editing), Paint Shop Pro (which now belongs to Corel), Gimp (a free program) to mention a few. I’m using Paint Shop Pro 9, but I’m not going to give you all the technical info about B&W Photography, one can find that easily on Wikipedia B&W photography or Monochrome photography
I’ll just show you part of my own B&W photos and tell their stories. Imagine you’re strolling around a photo gallery. I like to display my photos on a black background because it’s like looking through a window.
I hope you’ll enjoy your visit.
The intro photo is taken nearby where I live. In this part of The Netherlands you’ll find a lot of (sometimes very, very old) pollard willows. This one was just lucky to bump into his neighbour, when the harsh winds made him fall.
Copyright all text and photos, if not mentioned otherwise: Titia Geertman
Books about Black & White Photography from Amazon
Many books have been written about the subject of black and white photography. I must confess I haven’t read any of them, though I’ve looked at many photos of the well known photographers. For me personally the image speaks more to me than the written word does. You can click the images.
Black&White and Monochrome Photography in short
Black and White and Monochrome Photography are not that far apart from each other. In fact B&W is a monochrome image.
Black and White Photography:
Black and white doesn’t mean ‘only black and white’ but it contains all shades of grey in between. Before they knew how to add color, all media of the past were in black and white, like movies, television, photography, News papers.
Monochrome means a single hue – including all shades of one color, including the black and white. In photography the color used for monochrome is often Sepia.
Books about Monochrome Photography from Amazon
I do like the sepia monochrome photos, because they give a sense of the past, of old history. There are many shades of sepia from almost grey to the more yellowish ones. You can click the pictures.
Local Photography Club.
I was a member of a local photography club for several years and we met every Tuesday evening to show and discuss our photos. It’s so funny to see how everyone interpret an assignment in their own special way. We went on photo shoots once a month, sometimes landscape photography, sometimes architectural photography, or we visited a special building, or harbour. We had an annual photo exhibition and worked with a different theme each year.
Below you’ll find a few photos I made for different assignments.
Photo Assignment: ‘Boxed in’
One weekend we got a lot of company, so I bought some extra loafs of bread just to be sure we had enough for breakfast and lunch and when it was still sitting there on the counter in the box, I thought it would make a nice ‘out of the box’ photo for my photoclub assignment ‘Boxed in’.
Photo Assignment: ‘Night Photography
Night Photography is not so easy, because you have to let in more light in your lens (no not this lens as we call our articles), but in the lens of your camera. You know, an image can only be taken if there is enough reflection of light in your camera, so when it’s dark, the shutter has to stay open a bit longer than usual. Normally you’ll need a tripod for night photography, because you have to keep your camera real steady as long as the shutter is open. Hardly possible when hand held. I just got lucky with this one.
Photo Assignment: ‘From Behind’
On one of my trips (I travel a lot through my country in my van), I stopped at a petrol station for a break. It was late afternoon/almost evening, twilight so to speak and I happen to see this couple getting into the car again in front of me and somehow the whole scene hit my heart, so I took a photo. The color photo came out rather coarse grained, not exactly beautiful, so I decided to turn it into black and white and added some more contrast. I’m very pleased with the outcome.
Photo Assignment: ‘The Opposite’
When my youngest daughter moved for the such-and-such time, I helped her decorate her home and found this lovely Art Deco lamp at the fleemarket. Little did I know, when photographing her house to show at my hubby, who had stayed at home, that I would use this photo in an assignment for our photo club, but it fitted the assignment perfectly.
Black & White Photos including Water
Light is important in B&W photography
Many years ago I got this antique Christmas Group as a present from a friend. All figures are there, except for Maria and the baby Christ. I’m not religeous, but that doesn’t mean I can’t like the visual things like Christmas lights and Christmas trees and Christmas groups and I just happen to like this old, worn out group. I’ve put them up every year since I got them. I’ve replaced the missing crib with an antique glass ring holder in which I put a small candle (the shepherds’ path was lead by a shining star, wasn’t it?) and place them on tin foil, so the light reflects.
Sometimes color prevailes over black and white
Sometimes a photo turned to Black & White just loses its strong expression
Be careful: not every photo is suitable to turn into a B&W or Monochrome image. Some photos will lose their strong expression. You can play a little by adding more contrast, but in most cases it’s better to leave the color image alone. In the picture above, which shows a skull of one of my diseased rams you see in the color photo how beautifully the skull has adapted itself to the background, while the B&W and Monochrome versions doesn’t tell us much more than that it’s a sheep skull with horns. There’s little expression in them and therefor they’re rather dull to look at.
B&W and Monochrome photography should arouse the imagination of the viewer.
Portraits are not easy
I like this photo very much myself and I was glad I made it, because not so long after, my auntie Greet passed away quite suddenly in 2005. My mom used to visit her for years during holidays. My Mom passed away in 2013 at the age of 101.
I haven’t made much portraits, studio photography is not really my thing. I’d rather do street photography, but my heart is in landscape photography and silly things that nobody notices.
A Monochrome Experiment
I wrinkled a white paper, then I wrinkled a paper on which I had drawn some lines and experimented with contrast.
Structure in Black and White photos
Few years ago small wasps had build their nest in the ground just outside the entrance of the sheep stable door. I noticed because I was cleaning out the stable, walking in and out and all of a sudden there were a bunch of wasp swarming around me, so I turned around and saw them coming out of a small hole in the ground. Well I’m a bit alergic to wasp stings, so you can imagine how fast I ran away.
I’m all for animals how big or small, but this nest was in a dangerous spot for me and the sheep, so it had to go. I learned from the internet how to smoke them out, so I did it at late evening. I didn’t like to do it, but I had to.
Next day I took the cloth out and no wasp came out anymore. Curious as I was, I started to carefully dig the nest out and to my surprise it wasn’t a small nest, but a rather big one and it looked like an underground parking with 4 or 5 levels. I got it out in whole and we still have it. It looked just beautiful. What amazingly clever they are in building. Many an architect could learn from it.
Architecture in Black and White
Our eldest daughter once moved to Mechelen in Belgium for a while. Her apartment had a view on this beautiful old building of the former Brewery Lamot (website is in Dutch) and while she lived there, they build the ‘new’ Lamotte and they turned the old and new building into a multi cultural center. Architecture is per definition awesome in black and white or monochrome photography.
The Beauty of Sepia in Monochrome Photography
Monochrome means: all in one color or shades of one color. What we call ‘Black & White’ in photography, isn’t really just black and white, but it includes all the shades of grey in between. In photography we often use the color Sepia, which gives our photos that beautiful ‘oldfashioned’ look.
The Orange Canal (Oranje Kanaal) in the Province of Drenthe in The Netherlands runs through the province from Hoogersmilde to Klazienaveen a 48km haul with a height difference from beginning to end of 7 meters, including 4 locks of which 3 are still working. It was constructed between 1853 and 1861. In the end it didn’t reach the goal for which it was made (to unlock the peat area in the West of the province) and so in 1947 they closed it for official shipping trafic. Over the years this canal has become very important for the flora and fauna and unintentionally it has developped itself into a meaningful nature reserve.
Monochrome Trees in Sepia
Sometimes I use the negative of a photo
In reality this bridge in Terneuzen (The Netherlands) is a white bridge and I took the photo while driving to it from my car (naughty naughty, but there wasn’t any other traffic around). The photo didn’t came out particularly interesting, so I started to play with it a little bit.
First I turned into a negative photo, where the white became black and the black became white. Then I turned it into a monochrome picture with a yellow-greenish shade. I put layer over layer. played a bit with lightening and added some more contrast too. I’m not at all unhappy with the outcome now.
And there is Monochrome Deception – a little play on my side
Looks like a nice structure turned into sepia, doesn’t it. However, it’s a bit of a deception, because this is a full color photo of a detail of the fleece of one of my lambs who happened to have a special color, called red-eye.
Last but not least:
Look for the beauty in the Little things and look beyond the obvious
My dad taught me to look beyond the obvious and at one time I was cooking a meal with green cabbage. When I had cut it in pieces, I saw the beautiful structure of the cabbage leaves and took a picture and turned it into a black and white where the structure would come out perfectly. The photo however was a bit overexposed, which you can see at the cabbage trunk at the right.
So that’s about it. I gave you an overview of my black & white photos, I hope you’ve enjoyed them.