There is something stoic and passionate, raw yet peaceful about black and white photos.

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Valdez Boat Harbor, Alaska

Whether it is the layers of gray or the contrast between shapes and lines that appear so defined compared to color photos, or perhaps it’s that the lack of color, it is not there to distract the eye from other facets of the photo we may not perceive. Some think of it at an art form that takes away the distracting colors and lets the foundational portions of the photo (shape, form, lighting, texture) come to the forefront. Sometimes it’s the grainy image that brings my mind back to the beginnings of photography and its dense textures.

 

Traditional black and white photograpy was monochromatic, where there was different amount of light but not different hues. Where the photograph contains variations of one color. This was the only way there was back then before 1936 and the invention of color in photography. Exploration of the variety of black and white styles gives a different meaning of color, sepia (warm tones), cyan (cool tones)…just to name a few .

Today, black and white photography can be done the more traditional way and shoot in monochrome (most cameras, have this setting) or you can shoot in color and choose black and white in post-processing.

Black and white portaits let the focus be on the face and eyes instead of the colors that are there. It lets the smaller things, like freckles, show more than they may have in color format.

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While not every photo you take will look better in black and white, many themes can look stunning in black and white. No matter what theme, it comes down to composition, mood, and personal perference. Landscape and looking for active skies or capturing architectural texture of the buildings, or travel photography to seal that moment in time in grayscale or sports shots.. all can thrive in black and white styles as their shape, form, textures and tones emerge to show us their full potential.

 

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Liam, diving “The Pier”, Bonaire.