The last group of pictures I took during my outing to the local park included some experimental shots. When looking for images to photograph, I like to look for contrasts in subject matter. Think black and white!
Our human eyes are designed to transmit image signals to the brain in living color … and what wonderful colors they are! We like to wander around in gardens and photograph the the brightest and most colorful objects that draw our attention. But did you know that lurking in the shadows, quite literally, can be objects that are not so colorful, yet full of rich contrasts, making their light and dark components excellent compositions for the serious image taker who likes to dabble in black and white photography. I’ve been told it takes a trained eye to find these objects of desire. And, so it is.
Below are a few images of some humble plants that most people would walk right past without giving much thought to, except to say to themselves, Hey, look at that bunch of overgrown bamboo, or, Hey, look at those brightly striped, green leaves!
Sure, one might take a photo of the brightly striped, green leaves, but only for the fact that they are brightly striped, green leaves. Or one might take a picture of some overgrown bamboo just to have a picture of some bamboo. Sounds pretty dull, huh?
Well, I find bunches of overgrown bamboo to be quite fascinating when it comes to photo compositions. I look for variations in bamboo stalk colors next to one another, along with the direction of the light on the subject. Here is an image in black and white, exhibiting what I am talking about. Notice the light and dark contrasts due to changes in color of the bamboo stalks. The two, large stalks in front are, in reality, light green in color, with surrounding stalks in dark brown and black, some speckled. The position of the light is behind the subject, giving more intense shading to the darkest of the bamboo stalks.
In the next few images, we have a tuft of brightly green, striped leaves converted to a black and white image. Notice the contrast between the edges of the leaves and the middle of the leaves. The original color of the leaf edges are dark green, whereas the middle portion of the leaves are a bright yellow-green. It is the bright yellow green that is reflecting a great amount of light and the dark edged green absorbing light that creates this wonderful contrast in black and white photography. Again, it does take thinking in a different light (pun intended) to pick out subject matter that would make a good black and white composition.
Here is another photo of the same leaf, only cropped this time. Notice the fine, curly fiber threads near the base of the plant. They really pop in this black and white image!
Here is one more example of finding light/dark contrasts for black and white photography. The most obvious element that stands out in this image is the tree branch silhouette. The second, major contrasting element in the image is the cap on the Japanese lantern structure. It is covered in thick, green moss and is partially shaded by tree branches. The rest of the lantern is light grey, with some sunlight striking its body.
I hope these few, simple examples of mine will help demystify black and white photography and to perhaps encourage one to think out of the box next time when wandering through the garden.
©Peggy A Thompson