Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Day five solution: Composing with B&W in mind, part of 5-Day Photo Challenge: Composition.
- Welcome to our day five solution movie. This is it. You've made it all the way through assuming you actually did the day five today. This is the last one and it may be that this one felt a lot like the first problem to you on day one because that's how I approached it. I went out, first, looking for light because I know where there is strong dramatic light, there's going to be strong dramatic line and shape and that's what I'm going to build a black and white image from. I was working at dusk, or not quite dusk, but the sun's very low in the sky.
That's why there's all this traffic. We're near a restaurant. So, it wasn't cheating, but I was definitely skewing things in my favor because with this low angle light, I've got really strong shadows. That gives me a lot to play with in the world of black and white. I saw a lot of things, but what really caught my eye, were these trees behind this hedge just because I really like the interplay of the solid wall in the hedge with all this noisy stuff behind them and I don't mean noise, like digital noise, but just chaotic lines behind it. I knew in my mind's eye that in black and white I can possibly pull a lot of graphical detail out of those and hopefully, tone them in a way that they really look silvery, which is of course, the great beauty of a black and white print is when you get a very strong silver quality out of it.
As I was walking around, I found this one area that had a splash of light right in the center of the frame and so I decided to build my compositions around that. I worked a lot of different things. I put the hedge more or less in the frame. I really crowded the frame. I worked in kind of three layers in some shots with the hedge and trees and the sky and tried a lot of stuff. I really beat that to death for a while until I felt like my eye went numb and then I turned around and started looking other places were around these olive trees and they're very gnarled and twisted and in the afternoon light, they pick up incredible texture.
I like the way the branches twist around each other. I wasn't sure what to do with that. I wanted to just grab the whole tree, so I put the fish eye on and was shooting this stuff and really not liking it at all. As I stood up and was changing lenses, I realized hey look, there are leading lines and repetition leading into this tree right here. These rows of plants are all converging on one of these trees. So I switches lenses and was shooting some of that, and something interesting happened. I lifted the camera up over my head and tilted the view finder back because I wanted a better angle and somehow seeing the image there on the back of the camera rather than looking through the view finder, I saw and went, "Well this is a dumb picture." So I took it anyway but it's interesting sometimes the different perspective you get from looking in the view finder from what you get looking really at the picture on the back of the camera.
Sometimes it's good to switch back and forth between both of those. But again, the point of this exercise is we're really focusing entirely on shape. So a grove of trees is a lot of really strong line. A lot of really strong shape. Because of that, I think this is my keeper. I like the shape. I like that I was able to pull good tone out of this image. This is not one of the favorite black and white pictures I've ever taken. That's not what we're after with each of these challenges. Just wanted you to do the exercise. This is a fine picture. I'm not thrilled with it, but I'm really glad with what happened in my eyes today.
I really did feel like I was nervous when I went out, but once I saw the good light and I started to see the shapes and things. I really remembered this is what black and white shooting is about. And It was really great fun to practice that kind of thing. So, post your pics. I want to see them because this is the last day. It's the end of boot camp. I want to see where you ended up.
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