Day Ten: “Architecture” — Go Monochrome

From the geometry of skyscrapers to the ironwork on historical buildings, there are many opportunities to capture the beauty and complexity of architecture.

Walk through this intricate, organic doorway of La Pedrera, a famous building by architect Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain:

Perhaps there’s a grand spiral staircase at your favorite museum. A stunning Art Deco movie theater in your town. Or a futuristic micro-house on your block. How will you interpret this theme?

Today’s Tip: As we explored yesterday, color is a powerful element in photography. But black and white, or monochrome, can also be very dramatic. Today, look for architectural elements that translate into black and white: sharp lines, patterns, defined shapes, large surface areas, and a mix of very light and very dark colors.

Day Ten: “Architecture” — Go Monochrome

When we talk about monochrome in photography, we’re referring to images developed or executed in black and white or in varying tones of only one color.

Today, think about how black, white, gray, and the shades in between can interact in your frame in dynamic ways. As you compose your architecture shot, look for sharp lines, distinct patterns, defined shapes, large surface areas, and very light and very dark colors.

Compare the color and monochrome versions of today’s featured image — the lines, shapes, and surfaces come alive in both versions in different ways:

color versus monochrome
Photographer Merilee Mitchell, who blogs at The Gravel Ghost, often shoots in black and white:

It’s difficult to describe in words, but I innately know what something will look like in black and white. I see things geometrically: I sense large shapes in view, I see “values” (the degree of lights and darks) in a shot, and I know how they will translate.

If you’ve never shot in black in white, many devices and phone cameras let you switch to black and white shooting mode right in the camera. In the iPhone, for example, select the Mono, Tonal, or Noir settings to shoot in monochrome.

Or, shoot in color and convert your images to black and white (or grayscale) after you shoot, which is how Merilee works. You can convert your image in Photoshop or a free image editor like PicMonkey, GIMP, or Pixlr Express. The change is simple — for example, in PicMonkey, select “Colors” and then adjust the lever under “Saturation” to remove the color. Or, in Pixlr Express, click on “Adjustment,” then “Color,” and adjust the bar under “Saturation” to remove the color.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s blog: “Getting your photo right the first time”. Back when film was king, you had to take the picture right the first time. Colorful, light corrected, and rich in color. There was no “Post Processing”. But, photos were just beautiful, and contrast was perfect, and the skies were rich blue. How was that done? And can it be done right that way now? Read tomorrows article.

Today’s special:


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