Our blogging buddy Carol at Which Way Now 101 invited us to participate in a B&W photo challenge. We don’t use many black and white shots in our blog posts, so it sounded like an interesting challenge.
And in my case, challenge is exactly the right word. Shooting good B&W photos is difficult, and I have a great deal of respect for photographers who can pull it off. I get that there are photos which are exclusively about color: Holland’s tulip fields for example. And there are photos where color is a distraction – a green garden hose in a snowy winter scene. I recognize the extremes, but when it comes to color vs. B&W, making a judgement on the photos in the middle isn’t so easy for me.
So with these caveats, here goes:
The Rynek Market Square in Krakow, Poland is the largest in Europe, and is the beating heart of the Old Town. In a search for just the right shot, this attractive couple and their photographer were rushing around the square; would it be best by the fountain, in the market hall, or near the flower cart?
This photo appeals to me for a couple of reasons. First, what could be more classically B&W than a snow-white wedding gown and a coal-black tuxedo. Next, on this blustery day a gust of wind helped me with a bit of joyous spontaneity. The bride’s windblown veil and gown add some comedy to the scene, and I’m sure it eased the tension for the next shot.
P.S. When I referred to talented B&W photographers two bloggers immediately came to mind: Jeff at Planet Bell and the folks at Doublewhirler.
Very nicely done! Some things are still great in B&W. Adds a certain air…
Thanks. You’re right about the adding a feeling. I cropped the photos so they have a timeless feel as well. Fun project. ~James
Beautiful B&W captures James. Love them both 🙂
Thanks Madhu. Coming from a photographer of your caliber, that means a lot. ~James
Reblogged this on zhussipovmarkhabat.
Thanks very much for reblogging our post. We really appreciate it. ~James
Both great shots James. I never shoot in B&W though I’m slowly starting to see the power of it.
Thanks Alison. As I said, we don’t do much B&W either, but after this series, at least I’ll think about using it more. ~James
I really enjoyed the challenge too, James. Sorry- never thought of you for a nominate! I’ve stood in that very spot (but not as a bride 🙂 ) Lovely shot!
Thanks Jo. This series will get me thinking about using B&W more on the blog. In the past, I’ve pretty much been a color guy, but there are lots of occasions where B&W works well. ~James
A beautiful choice for the challenge, James. I like the contrast of candid vs. posed as well.
Thanks Carol, and thanks again for the invitation. As I’ve said to others, this will get me thinking more about using B&W on the blog, which is a good thing. Variety is always positive. ~James
I found it made me think differently about composition instead of just snap, snap,snap. I hope you find it useful as well.
Great choices. BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!
Thanks Francine. These seemed like the perfect candidates for B&W. ~James
I always think b&w is a bit arty and pointless – a bit like sepia.
I have some old b&w photos (film) from my dad’s albums and I am always amazed at how sharp and defined they are compared with modern digital b&w.
I must admit Andrew, that frequently when I read critiques of photos from professional B&W photographers, much of it seems like esoterica, but sometimes I can see why the photo is considered excellent. This is particularly the case with people shots. ~James
I agree but I don’t think digital b&w works as well as film b&w. In the era of b&w film was much higher quality than it has ever been since.
Lovely! I have to agree with Andrew, I don’t “shoot” b&w in digital because it rarely translates as well as film and the old days of developing your own shots. You nailed it here!!
Thanks Martha. Isn’t this a lovely couple? I hear you on using film vs. digital, but I have to be honest. Early on, I experimented with B&W film, and even had my own darkroom. But those days are long gone for me. I’ll take the convenience of digital, and leave the artistic shots on film to the pros. ~James
Agreed, the convenience of digital wins out with me too. That said, I do love the darkroom and the process, though it has been years since I played at it.
Beautiful shots – especially the second one.
Thank for noting the location. Having been there just this past summer, it gave me an extra feeling of connectivity with the scene. Sadly, we didn’t see any brides while we were there.
Thanks Joanne. Isn’t this square wonderful. We spent a week in Krakow, and almost every day we’d end up sitting somewhere on this square just soaking in the ambience and people watching. This lovely couple were excellent subjects; they probably thought I was stalking them. 😉 ~James
LOL! We did the same thing! Every time we found ourselves in the square, we staked out a different spot. The size of this square was incredible!
In a world of color photo, I’m beginning to appreciate B&W pictures more.
The wind whipping around the bridal gown makes it a frothy look, much more interesting than the one in the cathedral. Both are wonderful. ❤
Thank Tess. This lovely couple made the perfect subject. I actually felt for the bride. Even though her dress was lovely, it was a cold and windy day, and she must have been cold. But she soldiered on in the name of love. ~James
Ah. In the name of love… 🙂
Thanks for the comment Lucia, and for dropping by the blog. This couple was gorgeous and they made the perfect subject – especially for a B&W Challenge. ~James
Lovely shots. I love black & white wedding photos.
Thanks Darlene. These turned out well, and after seeing them, I’m surprised more people don’t use B&W for their weddings. But having said this, I can’t claim to be on top of the wedding game so maybe they do. ~James
My daughter used B & W for her wedding 15 years ago.
Hey, you’re good at black and white photography. Don’t stop here. And what a nice subject. Who doesn’t love a love photo?
Thanks Rusha. I was really happy with how these shots turned out. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the couple was gorgeous and tres photogenic. ~ James
A great challenge, very well done. Both are wonderful shots, but I love the veil and dress blowing around. Both have such genuine smiles, very natural. As several people have commented, digital b&w can be ok, but film wins hands down!
Thanks Laura. Coming from a photographer like you, your comments are quite an endorsement. I’ve never thought to ask, do you use film or digital, and if both, when do you use each? ~James
I switched to digital in 2003 and have never looked back to film. I’m in love with the instant results.
Thank you so much for the kind words! I really love that top photo – it is so playful and fun and a great use of Black and White. The dress and veil really glow in the light. I find that my best black and white photos are like this one with bright highlights and dark shadows.
Thanks Jeff. Kind words from a B&W authority like you mean a lot. Catching the veil blowing in the breeze was mostly luck, but hey, luck counts too. I like both these shots, but the first one is my favorite. As I said to Joanne above, the couple probably thought I was stalking them. 😉 ~James
I am not sure I”ve been called a B&W authority before, but I’ll take it. (World’s sexiest blogger yes – BW authority, no) 🙂
A little luck is involved in all great photos.
Hopefully it was only her veil making a run for it James. It is such a great candid capture of their special day. Nicely done!
Appearances can be deceptive Sue, but this couple looked like they were in in for the long haul – at least I hope so. ~James
I am smiling thinking about it James. Here’s hoping they have the same stick with it attitude some others we know possess. 🙂
On another tangent any travel plans coming up?
Sue, we were planning a few weeks in the Yucatan, but there are a couple of things going on that are keeping us close to home. Nothing serious, but it’s not a good time to be out of pocket. ~James
Lovely choice James. I remember when our niece married last year. I took several of the photos in b&w. I don’t know what it is about wedding photos that seem to work without all the color. Perhaps it is that the focus is primarily on the wedding couple.
Thanks LuAnn. Being the photographer at someone’s wedding is a duty that I avoid like the plague. It’s such a special event for the couple, and of course, everyone expects the photos to be perfect. I’m more the quiet uncle with the point n shoot sneaking around getting candid shots. ~James
I hear you. I felt comfortable snapping away at my niece’s wedding as I knew there was a professional carrying the heavy load. 🙂
Every once in a while, I find black and white can be quite powerful, as in your wedding shots, James, but I do mine through photo shop. (confession) That way i get to compare the color versus the black and white versions. –Curt
Not to worry Curt, I do mine through iPhoto. Back in the Pleistocene, I shot B&W film, which was a fun experiment but I wouldn’t want to go back to film. I’m sure there are purists (and professionals) out there still shooting film, but as a photographer, I don’t fit in either category. ~James
So many things we can do now, James. I use both iPhoto and Photoshop, and sometimes both. 🙂 –Curt
I’ve been working on a B&W exercise myself over the last week and it’s a lot harder than I expected. Well done for some great examples.
Thanks Marie. I have a few more photos in this series so I’ll see how they’re received. One thing about B&W vs color, with B&W the boring, mediocre photos are obvious. There’s no color to rescue a bad composition. ~James
I often shoot the same scene in colour as well as black & white.
Allows me to review after the event and assess which suits best 😉
Thanks Chris. As I said to another commenter, I did B&W years ago, but somehow just got out of the habit. Hopefully, this series will help to get me back into the habit. ~James
Sometimes it’s nice just to mix things up a little 🙂 I find people and ruins make great black & white shots
James, these are just delicious… beautiful in the execution but really artistic in b/w. I hope the bride and groom got to see these?! I agree, the wedding gown and tux really lend themselves to this challenge– well done!
Thanks Dawn. Unfortunately the couple didn’t get to see them. I didn’t want to intrude on their private moment (and as I said to someone else, I didn’t want them to think I was a stalker 😉 ) I was happy with how these turned out. The first one is a bit of fun, but the gorgeous couple and the setting make the last one a classic. ~James
I’ve taken photos of strangers, in my travels, and often give them my card/email and tell them I’d be happy to send them photos… it’s always fun when they actually follow thru! Again, these are beautiful, James!