Saturday, 24 January 2009

Black and White or Sepia

These two photos were taken at the same time. I simply walked round the statue to get Morecambe Bay in the background. In the old days you had to decide whether you were going to take black and white pictures when you put the film in the camera. Going back in time a little further you only had black and white with the possibility of toning usually with sepia. Sepia helped the chemical stability of the print and these are the Victorian photos that have survived. Now you can change any picture to black and white or sepia and it is converted with the click of a button. If you have any experience of using computers then you will know that there are many ways of doing anything. You can also convert to black and white with a few clicks - it depends on your software and sometimes it is better to know the complicated alternative methods and sometimes the computer's automatic one click guess is as good as it gets.

So why have pictures in black and white or sepia or any other tone? The easiest and best answer is because you like that option. If you are distracted by the colour of the flowers and the significant object in the photo is the bride's face, then black and white or sepia may be the choice over colour. Very often a wedding photo is black and white with only the flowers in colour. This is fine as an alternative to just colour or just black and white but it comes back to personal choice.

In black and white the emphasis moves to the object shape. Tone and texture become much more important and for most people this is not the world as we see it. For these reasons black and white is seen as more 'arty' and if that is what you like then that is fine. You will always have the choice with digital photography. This sepia photo highlights the shape of the statue that overlooks Morecambe Bay. The colour photo highlights the grass, and there are plenty of weeds to catch the eye. You will also notice that I have cropped the grass as it is not that interesting, and finally be prepared to break the rules and take photos into the sun. You may catch a glorious sunset, the lighting of your main subject may improve, and you may avoid taking a picture of a waste bin in the background.

Happy snapping

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