Image Doctor: Fan
Photographer: Merlyn Cantwell
Camera Type: Canon 550D
Shutter Speed: 1/50
Adjustments: Auto adjustment made in Arcsoft Photostudio
Photographer's Comments: The fan was set up on a black lacquered surface. Black and white photography is new to me and choosing subject matter is challenging.
Image doctor's advice
Welcome to the wonderful world of black and white photography. Despite working a lot in colour nowadays I still occasionally shoot black-and-white film for my own personal work. As I see it, black-and-white photography is a distillation of everything that is good in photography, namely composition, lighting and emotion. Colour is often just a distracting element.
In working in black-and-white photography you need to be able to take control of three elements of the photograph. Two of these are the brightness and the contrast and you will find these controls in most photo-editing software.
The third control is how colours are mapped into black and white. Years ago photographers would place coloured filters in front of the lens to control how colour would map onto black and white film. Placing a red filter in front of the lens would make skin tones go light while making foliage go dark; placing a green filter would have the opposite effect. Nowadays the same controls can be applied in the computer when we are making a black-and-white photograph.
If you are keen on making more black-and-white photographs then I would look at investing in Silver Efex Pro by Nik Software. This program is designed for converting colour photographs and black-and-whites and it does this exceptionally well. You get control of the contrast and brightness along with control over how colours are converted into black and white.
Perhaps the most useful feature in the program though, is that you can add control points to selectively lighten and darken the parts of the photo. Years ago black and white photographers “dodged” and “burned” parts of a photograph to lighten and darken parts of a picture. These two techniques were used to turn what could otherwise be an average looking scene into a complete work of art. It was in the darkroom that most photographers learn that making a photo was only the starting point in making an image.
With this image I have cropped the left of the picture, lightened the reflection using a control point in Sliver Efex Pro and then I have added a blue tone for effect.
Keep looking for black and white subjects… remember, years ago most photographers only ever got to work in black and white! You can make it work!
Image Doctor's edited version