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In the Arena of Black and White

I’ve been going through some of my older photos lately, and came across this one of the M.E.N. arena in Manchester. I’d even finished editing it, but never bothered to upload it for some reason! I think I was unsure as to whether I’d pushed the blacks a bit too much here. Even though my histogram in Lightroom doesn’t show the steps as being clipped, you can barely see any detail there. My aim was to emphasise the architecture though, so I felt as though the strong contrast would help here.

The Arena

Fortunately, the sky on the day was quite nice too. I always look to find ways of including interesting cloud formations in some of my photos. Even on their own, clouds can make interesting and dramatic photo subjects, but coupled with other features, they can really help to enhance and distinguish an image. After all, if you live somewhere cloudy, it’s going to be incredibly rare to find the exact same cloud formation in a single place at different moments in time.

Cloudy skies aside, I’m not sure if it’s the influence of pre-colour era photographers or not, but black and white photography is increasingly growing on me. There’s something about bringing out the true essence of an image once you remove the distraction of colour. It’s also a good way to avoid some of the more nauseating over-saturation of colours that we see so often nowadays in a lot of photos (landscape photos being the worst offenders!).

I don’t expect an exact reflection of reality in a photo, in fact, I encourage photographers to leave their own imprint on a photo, but simply taking a sunrise or sunset photo and then pushing saturation and/or vibrance sliders all the way up, isn’t all that imaginative. It seems to be quite popular from all the images that I see being shared around social networks though, so what do I know? Even I admit to having been a victim of the saturation bug too, having had to go back on more than a few occasions to make colours a little less eye-searing! At least that’s one less thing to worry about with black and white.

To think that black and white photography is less complex though, would be incredibly misleading. It’s all too easy to ruin a photo unless you begin by envisioning the final result. The great thing about digital though is that we have the freedom to experiment to our heart’s content, without worrying about permanently ruining an image. Whether this encourages us to be lazy and do away with vision, I’m not quite sure, but it’s something that every photographer needs to think about at some point.

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