Black and white was my first, and remains, my favorite medium. There is something about black and white that intrigues me and always makes me stop and deeply study a shot. I think most people my age started shooting B&W out of necessity since the film was both less expensive and easier to develop. Don't get me wrong, I'm in awe of the colors modern cameras can capture, but the purity and crispness (and sometimes lack thereof) of B&W is its own art form.
These days I cheat and sometimes I use B&W as a crutch when color schemes have gone wrong - yes I've salvaged plenty of shots by going monochromatic and pulling out the colors. I am unrepentant in that regard as I've often been surprised how the picture transformed into a piece better than it rightfully should be. I'll further admit that I always shoot in RAW and take the photo black and white in post production. That is not to say that developing the shot in color was my intent - I frequently aim to produce B&W photos and frame the shots accordingly.
B&W is its own art form and represents significant skill - it should not be assumed that shooting B&W is any less technically challenging. Interestingly, it is where most of us from "the film generation" learned photography. As I expect I'll be featured B&W photography in more blog entries, here are some overarching thoughts on the subject.
- Shadows and highlights make B&W photography - its not about white and black it is about the grays.
- Light sources become more readily apparent. Learn to recognize how these will impact your exposure.
- Composition remains king - but with black and white sometimes what is not seen actually adds to the photo.
- Leading lines, edges and patterns are acentuated.
- Depth of field is enhanced and more apparent to the viewer - use this to your advantage.
- Certain subjects are made for B&W - architecture, babies, night cityscapes.