As my journey into photography progresses, some of the most inspiring images are black and white. With color photographs, the light creates the image. The colorful clouds of the sunrise or sunset, maybe the light glowing through the fog creating atmosphere, or any other reason. With black and white, it’s up to the artist to create the image. Using dodging and burning, the eye is drawn through the image with light and dark areas.
Many photographers use the black and white button in Lightroom or Photoshop, move the sliders around, and call that black and white. They don’t create a figure and ground relationship. Creating an inspiring black and white photograph takes lots of time and patience. And sometimes editing the same image multiple times to get it right. Some of my images have 30 plus hours of editing to create. A lot of photographers aren't willing to work that much for one photo. The images in the Modern Black and White gallery are the result of spending weeks on the editing process.
State capitol buildings have a great look to them. I was in Olympia Washington during a cloudy day and had this image in mind. JUSTICE took many hours to edit because each part of the image was edited separately. That is what makes my black and white photographs inspiring. They're not just shades of grey. You can see the pillars near the top are lit from the left. I was trying to convey the light coming from the left but slightly behind the building. That is where the sun was coming up so it made sense.
2. BECOMING GOTHAM
BECOMING GOTHAM is the image I'm most proud of. Over 30 hours went into this edit. A mask was created for every different part of this image. Each building was edited, the light posts on the highway, the sky, trees, etc. to create the 3D look. Most photographers aren't willing to put in this amount of time but I enjoy the editing process. It took about 2 weeks with a few hours a day to complete. After a few hours, my eyes crossed and I had to stop. I think this is the best black and white image of Seattle I've seen. But I may be a bit biased.
3. PALACE OF FINE ARTS
During the pandemic, we took a road trip to San Francisco over Thanksgiving. Having never been, I did some research and found the PALACE OF FINE ARTS. Although the skies were clear, a long exposure black and white photograph fit the scene perfectly. The long exposure removed all the people walking around to clean up the image. What I like about this scene is the symmetry. No elements on the left or right over power the image.
4. BRIDGE TO SOMEWHERE
Driving south on I-5 through Tacoma Washington, I thought about this image a lot. Waiting for the right conditions is tough in the summer. I needed clouds but it was nothing but blue skies for a long time. BRIDGE TO SOMEWHERE finally came together in the early fall. The streaking clouds gave the sky just enough interest for an inspiring black and white photograph. As the bridge goes across the image, I can only imaging where it takes you. The destination is different for everyone.
5. MOUNT RAINIER BLACK AND WHITE
Arriving to Reflection Lakes for sunrise, the clouds proved to be too much for the sun. However, for an inspiring black and white photograph, it was perfect. The minutes long exposure streaked the clouds and smoothed out the ripples in the water. I knew right away how I was going to edit this image. Of course, sunset the night before was one of the best I've seen. It's not often you get images from sunset then sunrise the next day.
Black and white photography is one of the more difficult to get right. It's not as easy as clicking the black and white button in Lightroom or Photoshop. Each one of these inspiring photographs took days to edit. Creating hard masks, luminosity masks, and combining them together for the editing process takes many hours. A lot of photographers don't want to spend that much time editing. Personally, I enjoy the editing process. My hope is to inspire you to get into black and white or learn to appreciate it more. Check out the Modern Black and White gallery for more inspiration.