REASONS TO TRY BLACK AND WHITE:

grayscale photo of girl in black shirt
Photo by Elizaveta Dushechkina on Pexels.com

Have you ever thought about doing BLACK AND WHITE? Don’t you think it’s interesting that the best photographers are almost always doing some black and white along with their color?

The one reason, I can think of is that for some reason, black and white has remained something artistic in the art world. Getting a good black and white photo is actually harder than some color. Getting the contrast just right, the proper exposure, etc. is all part of doing good black and white photos.

Let’s look at some reasons why you should try black and white:

1. Black and white helps you see differently:

First of all, black and white has been around a long time. And the interesting thing is that once Kodachrome came into place, many photographers still preferred shooting in black and white. Even the famous photographers, like Ansel Adams, shot black and white almost exclusively.

Ansel Adams shot black and white and did it because he had to think about different things with black and white.

One reason is that black and white presents interesting creative problems. The world looks different in black and white, which means that you can think about tone, texture, and light in new ways. In fact, when you remove color, the emphasis of an image naturally shifts to other compositional elements.

For some photographers, this can feel freeing; you’re no longer stuck thinking constantly about color but can instead focus on the more fundamental aspects of photography: tone and light.

To see the most amazing collection of today’s best photographers, 123PhotoGo, has a website with a gallery of just “black and white” photos. To see the artistic side of black and white, go to: https://123photogo.com/gallery-end-of-2020/

As you’re probably aware, not all great color images will translate well to black and white. But the inverse is also true: certain images that look great and black and white won’t look good in color, which means that you’ll have a whole new set of photo opportunities to contemplate.

monochrome photo of desert
Photo by Dave Drost on Pexels.com

Ultimately, this emphasis on tone and light over colorful hues will help you see the world differently – and may even result in a brand-new photographic style.

2- YOU ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS WITH BLACK AND WHITE:

Color itself can take away emphasis on contrast, texture, lighting, shape, and form. If you’re photographing a weathered man with a face full of wrinkles, black and white will highlight the texture of the wrinkles, the intensity of the man’s age. Whereas color will simply distract the viewer and prevent them from seeing what the photo is all about.

Black and white will also eliminate those funny color casts that often occur on some color photos. You just don’t get distracted by those issues.

3- BLACK AND WHITE OFFERS SOME NEW CREATIVE CHOICES:

grayscale photo of a polar bear cub
Photo by Robert Anthony Carbone on Pexels.com

Since the world is in color, it is safe to say that color photography is more realistic and descriptive. A color photo depicts the world as it really is – whereas black and white photos only show a version of reality, one that seems more interpretive and creative.

In a sense, this can help you break free from certain restraints. Without color, you don’t have to show the world as it is; instead, you can show what you see, which might involve unusual relationships, interesting shadows, beautiful textures, and so on.

Ultimately, when you take away color, you remove what your viewer is used to seeing. Suddenly, you have to capture the viewer’s attention without the help of color – which also means that you’re free to have fun, experiment, and show the world in a completely new, creative way.

So in a way, black and white forces you to think, but it makes you more creative in the process.

greyscale photography of woman holding umbrella
Photo by Kha Ruxury on Pexels.com

4- Black and white adds emotion and mood to the photo:

Take a look at the photos used in this blog so far. Do you have any sense of emotion or mood? Do you feel anything when you look at these photos?

Personally, I think black and white photos almost always create a wonderful mood – or in cases where the mood is already present, the B&W conversion makes it even more intense.

Why does black and white photography go hand in hand with moodiness? I’m not completely sure, but something about tonal range, rich blacks, and deep contrast just appeals to us psychologically. It creates an emotional connection, and it makes you stop, look around, and pay attention.

Photo by Artemios Karavas / The Art of Black and White

5- BLACK AND WHITE FEELS TIMELESS

Here’s a common reason why photographers shoot in black and white:

It adds a timelessness to your images.

For one, black and white photography has existed since the beginnings of photography, which means that a black and white image cannot instantly be dated. Also, color schemes change over time, especially in clothing, business logos, cars, and architecture. Therefore, a color image will often include datable elements – but in black and white, these features may be much harder to place.

Personally, I feel that black and white photos seem to transcend reality. Look at the image below. Can you tell when it was taken? Is it a recent shot? Is it from 50 years ago? Or does it exist outside of time?

That’s the power of black and white!

CONCLUSION:

Now that you’ve finished this article, you’re hopefully convinced that black and white is worth trying.

To get started, switch your camera over to its Monochrome mode. Spend time experimenting with black and white. Learn to see with new eyes!

To see the most amazing collection of today’s best photographers, 123PhotoGo, has a website with a gallery of just “black and white” photos. To see the artistic side of black and white, go to: https://123photogo.com/gallery-end-of-2020/

Much of this article was written originally by: Nisha Ramroop

Looking for a specific photographic subject. Check this out:

WHAT SHOULD BE YOUR NEXT LENS TO PURCHASE?

shallow focus photography of brown mushrooms
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

I recently saw an article that talked about the 5 best lenses to have as a photographer. I read through the article and totally think the author missed the point of what you should buy next. Let’s take a look at what I think, and then you may make comments below.

Chances are you may have your favorite camera, and you bought it in a kit. So, you have something like an 18-55mm lens to start off with. This particular lens is a great lens to start off with. It encompasses wide angle, normal, and small telephoto all in one lens.

Then you start learning your camera, you start shooting a variety of things. Then you realize that one thing, whether it be portraits, macro, landscape, pets, or whatever, you really seem to be good at and you start taking more of those types of photos. That is how you develop into a photographer with a talent for shooting your favorite subject.

EVOLVING INTO THE NEED FOR MORE:

As you learn the subject you like to take pictures of, you will find that you need another lens. Let’s take a look at what would be your next lens with certain subjects.

1- Close up photography:

If you find that you like close-up photography, and find the close-up world fascinating, you will wish that you could get even closer. The first lens you should consider buying then, would be the MACRO LENS! This lens will allow you to get even closer to your subjects, and do amazing photos like this:

blade of grass blur bright close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Look at the lens choices for macro lenses from your camera manufacture. You may see 4 different macro lenses for your camera. What is the difference?

  • 35mm Ff2.8 macro lens – This is an all around good macro lens, and will work great. The nice thing about this particular lens is that it is probably the cheapest lens.
  • 35mm F1.8 macro lens – This one is the same as the above lens, but, it will let in more light (F1.8). In fact, looking at the two lenses side by side, this lens has almost twice the amount of glass, to let you take photos in lower light.
  • 85mm F2 Macro lens – A significant jump in millimeter. And it will let you take close-ups of bugs, flowers, without getting so close.
  • 100mm F2.8 macro – This is like the 85mm, only you get to move back even further to get your subject. This is the ideal bug lens. You won’t scare too many bugs away if that’s what you want to take pictures of.
2- PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY:

Some people have a talent for taking great portraits. And you will find out that the “kit lens” is not cutting it. You want to take great portraits, but, don’t want to be in the person’s face. You will be looking at the following lenses:

portrait of a handsome man with muscular body
Photo by emre keshavarz on Pexels.com
  • The usual one that most portrait photographers will get is the 85mm lens. And that could come with a variety of F numbers, or aperture openings. But, 2.8 I think would be sufficient.
  • The next one you might try, is a zoom lens, or a variable millimeter lens. Say the 70-200mm lens might be a good one. This will let you get a variety of photos from different angles, without being in their face.
3- LANDSCAPE OR SCENERY PHOTOGRAPHY:

Here again, the kit lens you have you will feel it is not enough. How do you get those wide vistas, the complete scenery that you see? With a wide angle lens. Sure you have a bit of a wide angle to your kit lens, but, a real wide angle lens will get you what you need.

  • Almost all camera manufactures have something like a 14-24mm lens which will do the best job. Looking through your wide angle lens could give you goose-bumps once you see what it will do for you.
There’s a lot of subjects we could cover, but for the majority of photographers, these 4 subjects should help you the most in deciding what lenses to look for first.
SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY:

The one thing that sports photographers want is a big lens that will get them a close-up of the action shots. You will often see sports photographers along the sidelines, with their cameras on a tripod, or monopod, and the lens looks HUGE!

A typical outfit for a Sports Photographer

Nothing is more exciting than to be down on the sidelines with the other sports photographers, and your huge lens, and camera with a high speed motor drive.

  • The lens you see in the photo above is a lot of money. But, if that’s what you want to do, then you will find a way to get this lens. Let’s look at a few:

So be prepared when you go for these special sports lenses. This is the Sony 200-600mm lens, that is used a lot. Tried to find the lowest price, and Amazon’s price is: $2099.00 for this lens outfit.

This 800 mm F5.6 lens from Canon is just the key. And you can purchase this lens on a payment plan of $1016.67 for 12 months or one time purchase of $12,200.00 US Dollars.

So, if this is a field of photography you want to get in, see if you can get a sponsor who has money to help you out with this. And don’t get a cheap tripod for this either (notice the tripod mount on the lens, not the camera body).

CONCLUSION:

Your next lens purchase will be the lens that is desired by the subject of photography you want to specialize in. If you can get in to a real camera store that has these lenses you can look through, this might just make more sense.

USING A GRAY CARD IN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY:

THE PERFECT PORTRAIT REQUIRES A GRAY CARD

What is a gray card in photography?

A gray card is exactly as it sounds: A card that is gray. More specifically, a gray card is generally middle gray, or 18% gray. They tend to be small, portable, light, and easy to whip out of a camera bag when necessary.

Certain types of photographers never photograph with gray cards, such as street photographers, wildlife photographers, and (most) landscape photographers. But other photographers, including portrait photographers and product photographers rarely leave home without one.

It’s interesting that even today, a lot of good photographers seldom use it, but, if they want things to be perfect, a gray card is a must.

The typical gray card is 18% gray. You can see how it relates.

Why are gray cards important?

Remember how I said that a gray card is middle gray, also known as 18% gray?

This number is important because 18% gray is what your camera’s meter is trying to calculate when it determines a correct exposure for a scene. If you put a gray card in front of your subject and take a meter reading, you will get a balanced exposure regardless of any tonal contrast in the scene.

Now, you might be wondering: What about my camera’s meter? Why can’t I rely on it for a good exposure?

Camera meters are very, very good, but they make mistakes, especially when faced with significant tonal contrast, as well as scenes that are naturally very light (e.g., a snowstorm) or very dark (e.g., a black rock).

One thing to remember about the GRAY CARD, is if you want a perfect exposure, there is no other way around this. A GRAY CARD is what you need to use.

The scene below is a tricky one for a camera meter to handle, thanks to the bright highlights on the food and the dark wood of the table:

how-to-use-a-grey-card-1597

Do you need a gray card?

Gray cards are helpful, but they don’t work for every type of photography. For one, if the subject is moving, then a gray card calculation is essentially worthless; within a few moments, the scene will change, and you’ll need to take another reading, and another, and another, which is more than a little annoying. Imagine a street photographer, who goes back and forth from shadow to sunlight while photographing subjects on the move. A gray card would be useless, as the exposure and white balance would need recalibrating from moment to moment.

Additionally, a gray card only works if your subject and the gray card are illuminated by the same light. Yet in certain genres of photography – bird photography and sports photography, for instance – the subject may be far off in the distance. That’s why bird photographers and sports photographers pretty much never use a gray card; there’s really no point, given the distance to the subject!

On the other hand, gray cards are perfect for controlled shooting scenarios. If you’re photographing food, products, or portraits, then a gray card is incredibly helpful. You can get close to your subject, take a gray card reading, and rely on it for an entire shooting session. Plus, gray cards are often necessary in these scenarios, as you must accurately represent the product and food colors.

How to use a gray card for perfect exposures

A gray card is the closest thing you’ll get to a magic bullet; it will give a near perfect exposure in almost any situation. So how does it work?

First, set your camera to spot metering mode, which tells your camera to meter off a small spot in the center of the frame. While this is not absolutely necessary, it will help a lot, especially in circumstances where you cannot fill the entire frame with the gray card.

Next, put the gray card in your scene, right at the center of the frame. Switch your camera over to Manual mode and set the exposure (based on your camera’s meter reading).

Taking a meter reading with a grey card.

Then take the gray card away. As long as the light doesn’t change, you will now have an accurate exposure for all subsequent shots you take of the scene.

Easy, right?

woman with red and black hair
Photo by Cihan Oğuzmetin on Pexels.com

CONCLUSION:

Next time you take a portrait, or product photography, consider using a gray card. It amazes me every time I see a portrait where a gray card was used. The exposure is just so perfect, you too will be amazed. Just another tool that will help you become a better photographer.

UNDERSTANDING LIGHT: PART 2

Photo by Johny vino on Unsplash

With our cameras today, very little attention is focused on lighting. Our cameras have a built-in “white-balance” system in it so that the colors come out right, even if the lighting is awful. So, why would I do this blog with the focus on different colors that light produces? Because you may run into situations, where the camera you own, even though it is supposed to balance everything to white, doesn’t do it.

In the photo above, I picked that because of the 2 different types of lighting in this photo. Let’s go over it, and I’ll explain more of the types of lighting:

The photo above is showing one of the most beautiful chapels in the world. The incandescent lighting is doing it’s job by putting out it’s natural color, which is kind of an orange, or gold color light. And the daylight coming through the stained glass windows is giving a beautiful rendition of the colors used in that stained glass. In fact, the windows in this photo, are the most accurate color.

This photo was probably done with a camera that had the automatic white balance. But, how is it supposed to fix all that? If it made the chapel area in the correct color, the stained glass windows would not be a vert pretty color. It is hard for any camera to adjust the white balance for any multiple colors of lighting.

There is only one thing in the world that can fix all the different types of lighting, and that is the human eye.

The one device that can give you the best color correction, to make things look normal, is the human eye.

Last winter, I was taking a walk in the park, and it was foggy. And this is the photo I took in the fog:

Notice the color of the light coming from the street lights. That is why this photo has the warm orange glow.

Now, the question is with some photos, including the one above, is: does this photo look great with this color cast, or would it look better with it color corrected in photoshop or Lightroom?

This photo, taken in the same park as the previous photo, had the warm glow to it, but was fixed in Lightroom. Which one do you like better?

UNDERSTANDING THE “KELVIN” RATING SYSTEM:

The Kelvin color temperature scale is used to describe the way various light temperatures appear visually. It is measured in degrees on a Kelvin scale (K) and typically ranges from 2700 – 5000 degrees Kelvin.

Virtually all light bulbs or lighting fixtures that come with bulbs included will reference on the package which Kelvin Color temperature is associated with the item you are purchasing. Having a complete understanding of what these temperature choices mean and how they will look in your home will help you to make the best lighting choices.  

Almost all light globes, or any light source will show on the package what the Kelvin rating is for the light produced. Take a look next time you buy a light globe.

I am one that likes my light in my house to be the most normal color possible. When I go buy a light globe then, they will either show on the package that it is a daylight bulb, or they may call it “cool white”. Either one will work, and won’t give you the warm color to your home. There are people who think that the “warm white” is better on your eyes. I don’t know how white can be warm. I still want my art work, my photos that hang on the wall to have the proper color in the room so they look right.

THE KELVIN SCALE:

This is a great scale that tells you exactly what color light globes are in their rating as compared to daylight. Daylight is the perfect light, and it produces the most perfect natural color. We know, however, that there is a thing called the “Golden Hour” which is the 1 hour after sunrise, and the one hour before sunset, and the daylight color is no longer accurate. But, it sure gives a nice warm color to everything lit up by the Golden hour.

Let’s look at the Kelvin rating of our light sources:
  • Daylight is “white light”, and it is what the light balance in your camera is calibrated to. So, this is the most perfect light we use in photography
  • Standard Warm White light bulbs are rated at 3200K. Looking at the Kelvin Scale above, you can see that it is definitely a warm yellow color.
  • Cool White light bulbs are not perfectly rated like daylight, but close. They are rated at 4500K to 5000k. So, you can see they are very close to the color of daylight (and that is the light I like to put in my home).
  • Fluorescent light is rated at: Warm white fluorescent bulbs range from 3000k to 3500k. Cool white range from 4100k to 4200k. Most people buy the Cool White bulbs. They look the most correct to our eyes, but, the cameras, and especially film, it brings out some kind of weird green color. I guess green is closer to daylight than the warm white.
  • Street lights: The International Dark Sky Association (I didn’t know there was such a group), recommends that street lights be rated at 2200K. Now you can see why my fog pictures, untouched, are so warm and yellow. They are not even on the Kelvin Scale listed above.
  • Flash on cameras, and cell phones: 5000K to 6500K. Nice for perfect flash photos.

CONCLUSION:

I hope that the next time you look at a light globe, you can see the actual color of the bulb. And then realize that it is not a color at all like daylight. It doesn’t matter what light bulb you choose, notice that it has a certain color cast and it can affect your overall photo.

Without vision, the photographer perishes

David duChemin

Technology is a wonderful thing. I am so grateful that I use WORDPRESS for my web hosting, and they are constantly finding ways to make my blog more professional. And over the next few weeks, you may see some more changes to the appearance and function of my website. Hope you enjoy it.

This article today was written by: Lanny Cottrell – 123photogo

TIME FOR YOU TO GIVE ME FEEDBACK! WOULD YOU TAKE A MOMENT AND SEND ME YOUR COMMENTS, OR THINGS YOU WOULD LIKE ME TO PRESENT IN MY BLOGS! ARE WE MISSING SOMETHING IN PHOTOGRAPHY YOU WOULD LIKE ME TO COVER? NOW IS YOUR CHANCE TO MAKE THIS WEBSITE MORE INTERACTIVE.

LEARN ABOUT LIGHT

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF LIGHT:

This “ART OF SEEING” series done by Ken Lee, has made me think of all the things we should all learn in photography, to make us a better photographer. Without light, there would be no picture. Hate to say it, but, this is an important subject.

Let’s take a look at the different types of light so we can all understand how to use them:

  1. DIFFUSED LIGHTING
  2. BACKLIGHT
  3. REFLECTED

DIFFUSED LIGHTING

Diffused light that which is not harsh and direct, it has been softened in some way. A great example is when you are outside and the sun is shining, with no clouds in the sky. The light is harsh and you will notice that there will be a lot shadows falling on or around your subject. But, if clouds are in the sky, and they block out some of that harsh sunlight, the light then becomes diffused.

Note on this beautiful photo: Here you see no shadows, the light has been diffused, probably by a cloud. This is a good type of light because everything seems to have the same equal amount of light. Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

You can use diffused lighting to your advantage in a great way. If you are shooting portraits on an overcast (diffused) day, you are pretty much shooting with nature’s own softbox. You will be able to work with your subject easier, and have different angles to shoot from, because you won’t be limited by the harsh lines and shadows that undiffused light can create. Overcast (diffused) lighting is preferred by many photographers, as it is a flat and even light. If it were a particularly sunny and bright day, shooting in the shade would also offer you some diffused lighting.

This particular image shows the use of diffused lighting, using the shade of the building to soften the light, while also reflecting light shades back to the subject.

BACKLIGHTING:

Backlighting is where you are illuminating your subject from the back, as opposed to from the front, or the side. Working with backlight you can silhouette your subject, or give them a glow. To Silhouette your subject, you would meter for the sky and to create a glow around your subject, you would meter for the subject itself. You need to place your subject in front of your preferred light source and allow that light to illuminate your subject. If you are using the sun as your light source, different times of the day will give you different types of backlighting. The lower the sun falls, the softer the light will feel. You may find that sometimes you will have to move yourself into a position where your camera can autofocus or switch to full manual, as the light can be so strong that your focusing point struggles to find what it is you want to focus on.

REFLECTED LIGHT:

Reflected light can be found everywhere, on most surfaces. Reflected light is literally the light that is reflected from a particular surface or material. If you were to shoot a portrait next to a white building, the light hitting the building would be reflected on to your subject, creating a soft light. If you were in the middle of the red Moroccan Atlas Mountains and you were to shoot a portrait, there would be a softer red reflection coming onto your subject from the ground. Or, if you were doing a portrait session outside and you wanted to bounce some additional light into your subject’s face, you could use an actual reflector. They normally come in two colors; one side gold, and one side white.

Reflected light tends to be quite soft and takes on the color of the surface/material that it is being bounced off.

The reflector was being used with the gold side to reflect a warm glow onto the subject’s face.

I had some help writing this article. Thanks to: Natasha Cadman / from Digital photography school for her great knowledge on this subject.

Tomorrow’s blog: Different colors of light, and how to work with them.

Join our email newsletter list! Great new insights, and special promotions and offers come with the newsletter. And subscribers get first knowledge of things to come.