Black and white photography

As somewhat of a beginner at photography (at least, photography with a decent camera!), I’ve been exploring when black and white makes a better photo, and when it doesn’t or is just a bit gimmicky. I haven’t been out on a specific black and white shoot (I don’t know if this would be a good idea or not really…!), but have just taken a black and white shot whenever I thought it was worth trying. These are the highlights of the attempts!

I really like the way black and white brings out the crispness of church architecture. I did an almost entirely black-and-white shoot of churches in the Brecon Beacons and near Cardiff, but most of them are on my boyfriend’s camera, so I’ll post them when I’ve got them. Here are two from a return visit this summer to Llandaff.

Llandaff Cathedral
Llandaff Cathedral nave

While visiting that part of Wales, I tried some black-and-white shots on Swansea bay as well. Generally, I prefer photographing the sea and beaches in colour, because of the glorious colours often available (I’ve been photographing the Normandy beaches for years, and even on a substandard camera you can get amazing photos because of the colours and the light). But, I quite liked these photos.

Enjoying the view of Swansea bay
A walk along the promenade
Cycling along the promenade
A stroll by the beach

I still prefer my colour shots of Normandy from this summer’s visit, but I do like the way this first photo captured the bright evening sunlight on the sea, and something of the majesty of the rough waves; and I think the black-and-white helps to focus the viewer’s eye straight in on the seagull in the second photo. The third photo I prefer the colour version of, but the texture of the seaweed on the rocks does come out nicely in black-and-white.

Evening sunlight on a rough sea
Seagull paddling at the water’s edge
Kneeling by the breakwater, photographing seagulls in the evening light

And black and white captured the gorgeous black-and-white timbered Normandy houses wonderfully.

Traditional Normandy black-and-white house

I had some fun with the ‘grainy black-and-white’ setting, photographing footprints on the beach one evening!

I like the way black and white simplifies photos of things like flowers and mushrooms, so you really feel the textures of the objects in the photo, in a way you don’t when distracted by colour.

That focus, combined with the more unusual look at things black-and-white gives, makes normal objects look more interesting – you look twice at things you’d usually pass by without a glance.

I’m joking calling number two a ‘Dutch interior’ style shot because I was reminded of the way early-modern Dutch interior paintings tend to have doorways showing other doorways beyond, and rooms showing other rooms in the distance.

Bird table in a summery garden
‘Dutch interior’ style shot of bird feeders
Dirty bird bath
Textures of clothing

Even a slimy slug-eaten patch of cat vomit (yes, ewww, I concede!) looks more interesting in black and white!


I’m still definitely learning & experimenting with black and white, and certainly have much still to learn! So if you have any advice and/or comments, as ever, I’d be very grateful for them 🙂



3 thoughts on “Black and white photography

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s