I am going to talk about fine art photography and black and white as my preferred way. I do not shoot exclusively black and white but prefer it for my art nude work. I also like to differentiate something that is created in the mind rather than just recording of an image. At the end I will briefly talk about how I do my conversion from RAW to black and white.
My interpretation of art is that it is something that is created in the mind of the artist. The artist can then interpret that creation in whatever manner that they wish to, painting, sculpture, photography etc. Whatever form the creation takes it should create some emotional reaction from a viewer.
When it comes to fine art photography I do prefer the use of black and white over color. I prefer this for one main reason. Black and white allows you to use your imagination in a way that color cannot. Let me explain. If you read a book the watch a movie of that book, the movie will never live up to reading the book. The reason for this is that the book allows you to use your imagination to create the way a person or place looks. The movie will do all this for you, essentially preventing you using your imagination.
In fine art photography I believe that black and white gives you that use of your imagination.
I always shoot in RAW mode, I then do my conversion to black and white using NIK silver effects in Lightroom. I do different versions of images but my preferred method is to pick a low key preset of an image. I then add in detail to the image and adjust the exposure to how I want the image to look. I do prefer the model to pop out from a dark background. You do need to play with the sliders to get the effect that you like. Do not be afraid to experiment, as long as you keep the original RAW file you cannot spoil anything.
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I woke very early on a lovely morning with the sun rising. I set off along a local for a quiet walk. The path meandered alongside a golf course. The light was beautiful casting long soft shadows. As I walked past a small lake, there was dead rotting tree that had fallen into the lake. The shape of the tree intrigued me, I do find the shapes that trees create quite fascinating. The reflections of the tree in the water made the shape even more fascinating to me. I photographed the scene but knew that with some extra processing in lightroom I would be able to make the scene even more interesting.
In lightroom adjustments were made to add contrast and take some of the detail out of the image. The focus of the image had to on the tree and reflection. The image appeals to me very much and fits in with my view of what art should be. You are inspired by something and interpret in your own way. The great ability for anyone involved in visual art is to be able to see the way light works and what you can do with it. Understanding light is far more important to you than what camera make you use.
Giving your image a sense of scale is very important. One of the best ways to do this is to add people into the image. We all know roughly the size of a person so it gives you an idea of the vastness of the overall scene. The image that I have on here is to show the landscape but including the rock and photographer in the foreground gives a sense of depth and scale to the image.
I had gone out to do some landscape photography with Monika in the Peak district in Derbyshire, it was one of those days where the light was beautiful and clear. We walked down a gorge which has many trees and the dappled sunlight was perfect. We walked out onto the open moorland where we came across these rocks used by climbers. Slightly more daring than me she went and sat on the outcrop to take some photographs. I took a few shots of her on the rock, I love this image as the clouds are wonderful and the detail in the rock and scene are immense. The conversion to black and white was done in lightroom.
This black and white shot I took up on the Shropshire hills. This shot really is about the contrast in the shades between the black and white. Whilst the shot is of a valley between two hills, it would not be of great interest without a main focal point. I have made the focal point the rotted tree branch and grass around it. It is important to give your shot a focal point, something that adds interest and that leads the eye into the picture.I do use small apertures to get as much depth of field as possible but when you focus on something so close as the branch and grass the distance will go soft.
Most modern cameras are capable of great quality images, to make the most of this always shoot in RAW mode and process using a programme such as lightroom. Whilst I do believe that artistic content is most important I do love to see great craftsmanship and do believe that it will enhance your images.
Sometime when you go out for a stroll with the camera you come across a shot that is set up for you. The whole thing is about a feeling, a passion for your art. The window with the wooden shutter is framed by the beautiful ivy. It gives a great contrast between the two but works perfectly together. This shot I spotted at Nostell Priory in West Yorkshire. I have put it into black and white because I felt color detracted from the image.
If you want to add extra impact to your images then look at the world from different viewpoints. There is nothing wrong with photographing anything with the camera at eye level stood up but it is how most people view the world so can lack impact. If you explore your environment for different viewpoints then you can add a lot of impact. Bend down, look up or move shooting position. To show the point I have chosen a shot where I was above a field. The branches in the foreground are to add depth and scale to the image. When you look at the field with the trees in you see all lines and patterns of how the field has been worked by the farmer, making for an interesting image. If this shot had been at the side of the field none of the patterns and lines would have been captured. Always explore your environment and add impact.