Black & White: Pet Photography 52 Week Project, Week 2

Black & White is the theme for our 2nd week of the 52 week pet photography project and I'll be honest, I struggled this week. I'm participating in the Pet Photography 52 Week Project to learn. Last year I feel as though I learned a lot in this group because we followed a book and the author made observations and gave suggestions I never would have considered. I was kind of hoping we'd use the same book this year so I could compare my images this year to last year's. 

So, when I saw the theme for this week I thought okay. Black & white. Then I thought, now what? What makes a great black & white image? When I'm preparing to go outside and take shots thinking about this topic, how do I know when I see a scene that it would be great for b&w? How do I know when I look at my color images if they might look nice in black & white?

Those were the questions I had so this is what I did. I get weekly emails from Digital Photography School and I knew they'd sent one on black and white images recently. I went to their website and found the article, "6 Tips to Help You Make Better Black and White Landscape Photos." If you are just learning photography, I highly recommend signing up for their emails. I don't have as much time as I'd like to read them all but they are full of great tips. Darlene in this group suggested an article to me from the same website which I liked even more: 3 Tips for Better Black & White Conversion using LR. 

The first article made the point to look for for the building blocks of great compositions - leading lines, shapes, patterns, tonal contrast and texture.  They suggested looking at other photographer's work and asking why their photos are so powerful and dramatic?

The 2nd article was about post processing. I have always used the LR presets for black & whites but the article Darlene shared suggested using the Black & White Mix on the 3rd panel down and then adjusting the sliders. The article went into detail about color. How in the film days, photographers would use a red filter when shooting the sky so it would look more blue. This is the kind of stuff I want to understand. I want to read about how our cameras see color vs our eyes and how to adjust things in post that make sense. Thank you Darlene for sharing!

This week I photographed my brown dog in the snow. I knew there would be tonal contrast between him and the snow. I don't dislike the photos of him in black & white but I think I prefer them in color. First of all, he gets cold so I put his red coat on him. Secondly, he was off leash which we NEVER do with him but since there was no one out, we thought he'd be alright. Just to ensure he'd stick close by us, we had 2 tennis balls. One to throw while he had the other in his mouth. That worked. He stuck close by.  The 3rd reason why I like the color photos, Moose's coat matches his dad's.

I don't love these in black & white because a dog in a coat with a tennis ball in his mouth doesn't necessarily scream to me, "Make this black and white" but for the sake of this exercise I did. I've included the color photos too.

This is a blog circle and next up is Rochelle Marshall at Dark Sapphire Photography serving pets of Nelson, New Zealand. Keep clicking the links at the bottom of each page and you'll end up right back here.

(Aside... one of the photographers the first article recommended is Rob Dweck. omg - I found an ebook of his that I want called The Photographer's Guide to the Golden Gate Bridge. It has tips on the best locations for photographing the bridge, the best times and how to deal with the weather. If you know the bridge, you know that last one is tricky AND IS ALWAYS an issue. I have no plans to be in San Francisco any time soon and I rarely use my tripod but I want this book. It's $4.99! By the time you read this, I may have purchased the book but I'm really going to try to resist because that would be ONE MORE thing for me to read and learn about photography and I've got enough on my plate!)