Black and White

During 2020 I ran a photography challenge over on my travel blog looking at different techniques throughout the year. I was not expecting that the year itself would prove to be a challenge in that the Covid-19 pandemic hit us and not only put paid to any travel plans, but also altered the way in which we conducted our lives. This year I am going to look at those techniques again using new photographs as and when I get the opportunity.

November is about how to use black and white to focus on the contrast and patterns that you may not have previously noticed. Colours are great, but can add distraction to a photo.

Often overlooked black and white offers so much depth and emotion and has a timeless nature to it. It’s about searching for a new perspective and creating a visual that is better without colour. It’s about expressing emotion not just removing colour. It’s not about shooting objects that lack colour to begin with (i.e. a zebra)

Tones – the underlying brightness, darkness, and shades of grey that appear in an image. The tones of your image – whether dark or bright – should harmonise with the character of the subject itself. Dark tones can be moody and dramatic, light tones ethereal and light. In these images below I have used Silver efex Pro 2 from the Nik Collection to edit my photo.

Look for light or dark backgrounds for your photo shoot. Then, simply choose a subject with the opposite tone (light subject with a dark background / dark subject with a light background).

Gwithian Beach with Godrevy lighthouse in the background, pencil sketch effect.

The best black and white photographs often have clear ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’ to guide the viewer.

The Steward’s House on the Mount is painted white, a complete contrast to the greys of the granite buildings and walls surrounding it.

Silhouettes don’t necessarily have to be shot with perfect backlight if the subject is dark enough and the background is light.

Walking the Dogs.

What is important though is the compositionTry using a square format to emphasise the composition especially if there is a distinct pattern formation. When you take a picture in monochrome you may have to make different decisions about how you compose the shot.

Cobbled paving stones of differing shapes and sizes cropped in a square demonstrate the irregular pattern of the stones.

If you would like to have a look at the different techniques covered throughout the year then you can see them here. Please note that I am not running this as a challenge, but merely using the old one as inspiration for my photography this year.


  1. Ann Mackay says:

    B&W has a nostalgic feel for me, so adds something extra to the photos. (Reminds me of long-ago darkroom days too.)

    1. Heyjude says:

      I never did process my own film, but my daughter did when she took a photography class. Maybe a project next year (not film, but B&W photography)

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