Black and White Vision

July 31, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Sometimes, it's difficult to balance the light and shadows at sunrise.  In this first shot, it was over an hour after sunrise, but the sun was hiding behind a rather dense cloud bank on the horizon.  Because of this, it threw the foreground into more shadow than if the sun was higher in the sky.

It was not completely overcast that morning, and the clouds were lower in the sky.  The sun was on the way to rising above the cloud bank, and it was shining brightly on the clouds above.  The brighter it got above the clouds, the more it created a mismatch of exposure in the foreground of my image.  November SunriseNovember SunriseWinter sunrise on Lake Michigan. While I was shooting, I decided to take advantage of the contrast of light and shadows.  Not all photographs (day or night) can be made in black and white.  But this one qualified because of the dramatic contrast of light and shadow. In a black and white photograph, whites are whiter, and blacks are blacker.  Now our eyes are drawn to how the light is reflected on the water.  The tree in the foreground is silhouetted against the brightness of the image, yet you can still see the white line of snow on the north side of the tree trunk from a recent snow squall.  It makes the image look even colder than when it was photographed in color.  Sunrise in Black & WhiteSunrise in Black & WhiteSunrise on Lake Michigan in late November. In a night photograph, it is often easier to shoot in black and white because of the automatic contrast of light and dark.  If the night scene has a lot of color, the photograph will often look better in black and white than you might imagine.   The shades of color will lend more shades of gray to the black and white photograph.

Here, the colors of the Christmas decorations are prominent. The red vehicle adds an additional pop of color.  The buildings are different colors and each with lights coming through their windows.  There's enough sky to fully illustrate that it's nighttime.  December Evening DowntownDecember Evening DowntownMid-December on East Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee. In black and white, it can be just as dramatic.  The pops of color are gone.  We can tell it's the holiday season because we see the trees are decorated and the wreaths are lit.  But other things are accentuated when this image is presented in black and white.  We now notice the reflections of the light on the cars.  We can still see the night sky against the lights of the buildings.  Black & White Christmas LightsBlack & White Christmas LightsDowntown Milwaukee at Christmas time. As with any piece of art, the same image affects different people in different ways.  Long ago, when I was first starting out as a photographer, my father-in-law gave me a bit of advice.  He told me to make a photograph in color when I'm trying to bring out information and to shoot in black and white if I'm trying to bring out emotion.  I have learned that this isn't always true; that it's still possible to evoke emotion with a color photograph.  But, in many cases, a black and white photograph is even better than one made in color - and for just that reason - it brings out more emotion. City Nights in Black & WhiteCity Nights in Black & WhiteDowntown Milwaukee at night.  



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All photographs on the Deb Beausoleil Photography website are the exclusive property of Deb Beausoleil.  The images may not be copied, reproduced, transmitted or altered without the written consent of Deb Beausoleil. 

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