Week 8 – B&W

The goal for Week 8 of the 52 Week Landscape Composition Photo Challenge is to shoot Black & White. I love B&W Photography. I have always been drawn to B&W photos. Ansel Adams is one of my favorite Photographers. What he was able to do with his photos as well as Photography in general is unbelievable. I take a lot of inspiration from Ansel Adams as well as several Photographers from that timeframe who primarily shot in B&W like Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Mary Ellen Mark, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus, Dorothea Lange, and many others.

Black & White Photography is extremely rewarding to me. What I have seen is that even people who aren’t into Photography are usually drawn to a great B&W image. My friends, many of whom are not into Photography, are drawn to my B&W shots more than color.

What I have learned is that images that taking a Photo and merely processing it to B&W may get you good results but often times, you’ll be disappointment. To get best results with B&W photos, you have to not only think about post processing but also deliberately think about B&W while shooting a scene. You have to assess a scene to see whether or not it would work well in B&W. You’ll have to look at things like Tonal Contrast, Texture, Pattern, Lines, Shapes, Forms, among other things.

I have seen a lot of people say that they convert their photos to B&W if lighting is bad. This may work but unless you look at things I mentioned above and deliberately shoot a scene with the intention to convert to B&W, the results are not going to be optimal. Don’t get me wrong, B&W does ‘soften the blow’ when you are dealing with bad lighting but there’s more to B&W than just converting to B&W in post processing.

To be honest, I do both. Meaning, I deliberately look for scenes that will be good in B&W as well as convert shots that don’t look good in color to B&W to see if turns out better. I have definitely had better results with the former approach rather than the latter.

One of the places that I look to capture in B&W is Yosemite National Park. How can I not think about B&W given that some of my favorite photos of all time are Ansel Adams Yosemite series? Yosemite definitely screams B&W, especially during winter. I have several shots from Yosemite where I shot with the intention of converting to B&W. A couple of shots in this Photo Challenge series are B&W shots from Yosemite.

This particular shot was taken during my recent visit to Yosemite. We didn’t have fresh snow during our recent trip but all the mountains and peaks were covered in snow. We went to Tunnel View for Sunrise and I zoomed in on the Cathedral Rocks with the beautiful Bridal Veil Falls and decided to capture that with the intention to go B&W for multiple reasons: 1) the tonal contrast in the scene 2) the snow capped Cathedral Rocks with dark rocks 2) the bright Bridal Veil Falls and 4) B&W was basically the only option that day as the weather wasn’t ideal.

Definitely not the best B&W I captured but I think it turned out well. The best thing was I went with the plan to shoot B&W and executed my vision.

 

 

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Week 5 – Reflection

The Challenge for Week 5 of the 52 Week Landscape Composition Photo Challenge is Reflection. I love reflections; especially those that occur in nature such as waterscapes. For some reason, I am drawn to reflections and love capturing them.┬áTo me finding reflections in nature is like a scavenger hunt; I try to seek out as many reflective surfaces as possible – lakes, ponds, water puddles, windows, mirrors, and on and on.

In my mind, the keys to photographing reflections is to achieve an acceptable amount of clarity in the reflection so both the main subject and its reflection are super clear. I often move around to find the perfect reflection. I try to get a clean reflection of my main subject and nothing else. This brings in symmetry as well. In some cases, I find a small rock or driftwood, or tree bark, or something in the foreground to offset that symmetry. But in most cases, my goal is to capture a mirror reflection.

During my recent visit to Yosemite National Park, I shot this reflection of Three Brothers. I have been to this particular location a couple of times before. The first few times I went to Yosemite last year, I was not able to find a good location to shoot the Three Brothers. During one of my visits to Yosemite with Sowmya and her mom, I was on the lookout for a location to shoot the Three Brothers. Not only that, I knew that there is a location in the Valley where you can get a good reflection of the Brothers.

While driving around, Sowmya found a pullout that she thought would be a good spot to park our car and walk off-trail to see if we can find a spot to shoot the Three Brothers. We got lucky. This spot was not too far away from where we parked our car. I was very happy to get the reflection of Three Brothers. Actually, that morning, almost all of my shots were reflections – El Capitan, Half Dome, Three Brothers, Tenaya Peak, Stately Pleasure Dome, and Cathedral Rocks.

During my recent visit to Yosemite, we went to this location again to get the reflection of the Three Brothers. I converted it to B&W as the contrast seemed to work very well. The water was pretty still. I was able to get this shot hand-held and still get a sharp focus on both the main subject and the reflection.