Photography 101 – architecture in black and white

Theme 1 for week 3 was focused on colour. Theme 2 looks for elements within architecture that would work well in black and white.

In “common photographic mistakes“, Ming Thien states, “amateur black and white generally tends to be too flat or too contrasty.” I need to see examples to better understand what these mean. Having been exposed to primarily colour photographs, seeing more black and white photos would help develop a sense of quality. Regardless, the comments are perhaps a useful starting point for critique of my photos.

What do you think?

concrete windows

easy peasy for Spider Man

glass building downtown

watery reflections

early 1900s architecture

Historic school residence around 100 years old – repurposed in B&W from the Landmark theme of Week 1

Do you have a preference to photograph in colour or black and white? Do you process afterwards or set your camera to B&W?

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11 thoughts on “Photography 101 – architecture in black and white

  1. Love the first photo! I have taken a similar one (of a similar building as well) in Athens. I tend to go for color though…I love color!

    • Thank you! Yes, colour is fun. B&W is something I’d like to work more with. There’s something, hmmm… sophisticated and mysterious about B&W. Not to say that color is the opposite, but I suppose it has more to do with seeing so much color regularly that B&W seems novel. Have you posted your Athen’s photo? I’d love to see it!

  2. I love black and white, but I always convert in post. It’s an interesting experiment to edit in colour and then convert to black and white. You will always have to edit again because black and white is such a different feel and mood to the light.
    Nice images by the way.

    • Oh, that makes sense about having to edit again in B&W. I wasn’t doing that with my super simple, old resizing software that also converts to grayscale. I see now that relying on the presets means that I could make more changes after. Hmmm… the more I think about it, perhaps I should consider investing in some proper software for overall editing.
      Thank you! I want to practice more so I can train my eye to look for better contrast that will hopefully lead to better B&W photos. Do you have any tips?

      • I use LightRoom for editing and find it pretty good.
        I’m by no means an expert, but i think it’s just that – contrast! I look for texture in buildings, paint, trees. Also I think it’s important to make sure the sky is either very interesting or completely blank. When it’s blank, it kind of highlights whatever it is your photographing. And when it’s interesting, it’s interesting 😊, I mean it gives texture to the image. Anyway, that’s what I look for. It can be useful to go back to your colour images and have a go at converting them to black and white, then playing with exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows. A bit of experimentation is worth a lot!

        • Okay. That makes sense. Thanks very much!

          LightRoom keeps coming up and I’m going to start looking more seriously. I was turned off my Adobe’s move to subscription format but I see that I can still buy boxed versions of some of the software they offer. What do you think about that subscription idea??

  3. I prefer colour most of the time, and if I do want to take black and white pictures, I change the setting of the camera. I feel that I take different pictures in this mode because it makes me focus more on shapes and contrast than on the colour. Some colours are very different from each other but come out the same in black and white. I do not have enough practice to realize this while I take pictures and later transformation into black and white thus often leads to empty, flat pictures.

    • Thank you! I like the idea of “focus[ing] more on shapes and contrast” because it makes sense. I didn’t think about colours looking similar in B&W. It seems so obvious now. And your description of how “empty, flat pictures” emerge helps. I really appreciate your comments! They have been very helpful in answering my questions and clarifying concepts that have had me confused.

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