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Colour photographs by their very nature rely in some way on their main characteristic of colour to draw the viewer into the image. So, when you are looking to take a monochrome image, you have to discount that attribute and rely instead on other aspects of the subject to give to your viewer. There are many things to look for in a subject when you are planning to take a black and white photograph. Shape and form for instance, tone and contrast and also texture and pattern.
The first image of the fallen tree with the hole though it relies on texture, tone and form. The format of the image is square. This provides a static and stable frame on which to arrange the components of the photograph. The tree is placed in the frame with the hole slightly to the right to suggest an initial movement in that direction. Initially, the texture and tone around the bottom of the hole pulls the eye to the right around the perimeter of the circle formed by it and then into the hollow and then out to the left side of the frame.
The second image is a close-up shot of a tree trunk showing the deep texture and patterns of the bark. The visual impression is of almost a thick skin-like quality, and within the solidity formed by the square frame, the viewer’s eye moves across the image from left to right until it finds the hole on the right and then follows the crack in the bark from the top of the hole to the top of the frame and out.
Both pictures were shot with a Nikon D7100 and a Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens.
Tough as Old Boots
I always try to inject some atmosphere into my black and white photographs and the following images taken at Stowe gardens are indicative of how I try to make my photographs more interesting.
When I’m out on a shoot I tend to see most of the pictures I take as monochrome. I look for texture, tone and shape in order that they will help me make the photograph stand out to the viewer. During processing, I then try to recreate and enhance my vision for the scene as I saw it on location.
The following two photographs were taken with a Nikon D800 and the 24-120mm f/4.0 zoom lens.
The first image of the garden temple is fairly straight forward, but what I liked about the angle from which I was looking at the building was that it gave the impression I had just discovered it in a clearing in a wood. In reality, there was a footpath running in front of it with people walking regularly past.
I waited for a gap in the flow of visitors and knelt down in the grass so that I couldn’t see the path in the viewfinder and then took the picture. This low angle also meant that the temple looked as though it was slowly being overtaken by the undergrowth.
This next picture is of the Palladian Bridge at Stowe. The reflections of the bridge in the water especially the arches and the way they almost seem part of the physical structure really grabbed my attention. Once I had started processing the image, I darkened the clouds a little to add atmosphere and also to keep the viewer’s attention held down onto the bridge.
The following photographs were all taken at Buscot park in Oxfordshire. Once again they were all taken with a Nikon D800 and a 24-120mm f/4.0 lens. The first image taken of the copies held at Buscot of some of the terracotta army is in my more usual format of 1:1 or square. I opened the lens to F/4.0 and focussed on the second sculpture in the line as I wanted the viewer to be drawn to that particular one. By making the others out of focus and the one in the foreground cropped as well, I think that aim has been achieved.
The second image is of the obelisk in the garden. The sky was a deep blue that day and it was very warm so in processing I darkened the sky a little more to emphasise the three sides of the sculpture that can be viewed in the picture.
The third image, I took because of the implacable stare that was on the statue. I also like the way that the sun left shadows on the face highlighting the features.
Second in Line