Review: MOAB Entrada 300 (The Darling of Black and White Photography)

MOAB Entrada 300 makes black and white photos look great.

Printing is still a large part of running the Phoblographer, and MOAB Entrada 300 is a fascinating paper to us in many ways. Most matte papers we test have some sort of texture to them, but MOAB Entrada 300 is an oddity in this way as it is a smooth matte paper. The result is a loss of detail when compared to something like a luster or a glossy print. MOAB Entrada 300 instead has the look of something almost like Red River Palo Duro papers, which are designed to emulate the look of the darkroom. In this case, MOAB Entrada 300 is for a photographer who really liked black and white. More importantly, it’s for the person printing an image who doesn’t know where they want to place it. To that end, it’s excellent for displaying it anywhere in your home.

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Five Easy Composition Tips for Stunning Black and White Photography

Practice makes perfect, especially for black and white photography. Here are some quick tips to improve your composition today!

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: black and white photography isn’t as simple as using your camera’s monochrome mode. If only it were that easy! Because black and white photography has the inherent ability to make compositions stand out, working on your composition is one of the first few things you need to get started with. In today’s featured video tutorial, PHLEARN Founder Aaron Nace shares five quick composition tips to get better monochrome snaps.

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Using Texture to Create Black and White Photography You’ll Want to Touch

Looking for more black and white photography tips and tricks? We recommend learning how to capture textures that will make your viewers want to reach in and touch your work!

We hear from master photographers time and time again that black and white photography has the power to bring greater attention to composition in the absence of color. That presents both a challenge and an opportunity for anyone who wants to shoot creatively in black and white. If that sounds like you, we have a video to help you get started, this time with some tips on how to work with textures for monochrome images.

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Five Ways to Use Shadows for Impressive Black and White Photography

Great black and white photography goes beyond just shooting photos in monochrome mode. This quick tutorial shows how to use shadows effectively to create great black and white photos.

If you find yourself drawn to the dreamy, dramatic quality of black and white photography and want to begin shooting your own, you have to tweak your mindset a little bit. It’s not as easy as merely shooting anything and everything with your camera set to monochrome mode: it involves looking at things a little differently so you can capture extraordinary images. Today’s featured tutorial shows us how to use shadows to achieve this goal when creating black and white photos.

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Why Nothing Will Beat the Sharpness of Black and White Photography

Black and white images get a lot of hate, but they’re sharper than you think.

While some folks hate black and white, I find there to be special magic to it. Of course, not every black and white image is super sharp, but compared to a color photo of similar variety, they’re far sharper. Believe it or not, the best way to see how sharp your lens can be involves converting your images to black and white. Don’t believe me? Look at history. Acros, T-Max, and Tri-X are all super sharp black and white films. The images made with them are far sharper than any slide or color negative film out there. With digital, we became enamored with color. We also were all about fixing it in post-production to make an image appear sharper. Here’s the crazy secret: even if your color photo is sharp, it’s going to look sharper in black and white. Don’t believe us?

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Watch This If You’re New to Black and White Photography

Finally decided to take black and white photography more seriously? This quick video will help with your learning process.

In an era when colors are most popular for photography projects, it can be intimidating to strip down all the hues and go black and white. If you’ve decided to take on the challenge of seeing and capturing the world differently, it’s worth learning some useful tips and tricks to get the best photos. In his video for Shutterstock Tutorials, Texas-based video journalist Logan Baker shared some of the things he learned when he gave it a try.

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Useful Tools to Include in Your Black and White Photography Arsenal

In the mood for monochrome? These recommended tools should make your black and white photography practice easier, and your results loads better.

Black and white photography is a totally different way of seeing and shooting things. It’s only natural that it comes with its own set of guidelines and tools to help make the most of the medium. If you’re new to the craft and wondering about what you can add to your black and white photography tools of the trade, you might want to take note of some suggestions in this quick video.

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9 Ways You Can Create Better Black and White Photography

When done right, black and white photography has the power to create moods, add drama, and exude a timeless quality. These quick tips will help you understand how to work with the medium and harness that power.

“For most of us these days, black and white is an afterthought, a creative filter we have on Instagram, a Lightroom preset we apply because that particular shot has too much color in it. Black and white is not generally something we pre-plan,” lamented London-based photographer Jamie Windsor in one of his videos about black and white photography. He goes on to remind us that black and white is more than just a creative filter or an editing technique. It’s a totally different way to see things, work the scenes, and convey thoughts, feelings, and ideas. To help us get a better understanding of these notions and achieve better results in the process, he put together nine quick tips and techniques he found crucial to black and white photography.

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Learn Something: A Color Filter Guide for Black and White Photography

Ever wondered which color filter to use for which effect when shooting in black and white? We’ve got you covered with another guide and cheat sheet.

At some point in your black and white photography journey, you’ll come across photos shot with color filters. If you’ve been wondering how to use them for your photography, we’ve found just the right stuff for you. First is a primer on using color filters for black and white photography, and then a simple cheat sheet that you can use for quick reference while you’re out shooting!

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Mattias Johansson Composes Beautiful Black and White Photography

All words and photos by Mattias Johansson. Used with permission.

My name is Mattias Johansson and I live in Sweden, in one of the parts that is described as a problem area. Even though there are some problems in my neighborhood, I have chosen to look at it through another perspective. I have focused on photographing the place and not the problem, so to speak. I have discovered that there are some very interesting environments in the area. I think it’s important to show a different perspective and to raise questions about matters that are important. I hope that someone reading The Phoblographer can be inspired to take photos of their home areas and work with a project that enlightens them about a question that is important for them. Photography can be a powerful tool to put a spotlight on a phenomenon.

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Useful Photography Tip #191: Here’s Why Toning in Black and White Photography Is So Important

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Check them out here!

Today’s useful photography tip is for every photographer who wants to get more into black and white photography, is into it, and who wants to understand how light and color can affect a scene. The opening photo of this post was done in black and white. When you look at it, you’d probably think that the lighting wasn’t that special or different. But click past the jump to see something a bit different.

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Review: Andrew Gibsons “Art of Black and White Photography”

Andrew Gibson’s Art of Black and White Photography teaches the fundamentals that most photographers don’t have today; and it’s part of the 2018 5 Day Deal Photography program.

Lots of folks sit there and say that black and white photography is a crutch for when your editing doesn’t work otherwise, but Andrew Gibsons Art of Black and White Photography is a different beast that begins with telling you to learn how to think in black and white. But that’s sometimes difficult to do as black and white photography has so many different looks. One may most appreciate the looks of a scene with super high contrast scenes and lots of clarity while yet others only adhere to the school of Kodak Tri-X. No matter what level of photographer you are, there is bound to be something that you’re going to learn from Andrew Gibsons Art of Black and White Photography.

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Get Better at Black and White Photography With These Quick Tips

If black and white photography has been on your mind, you may want to bring this handful of quick tips with you the next time you go out and shoot.

Black and white used to be the only way to go back in the old days of photography. Today, however, there’s more than one way to make sure your black and white photos are on point. With these quick tips from London-based photographer Jamie Windsor, you can at least have a head start on getting better at black and white photography, whatever the genre you want to take on.

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Louis Dazy Explores Moody Black and White Photography in “Smokescreen”

All images by Louis Dazy. Used with Creative Commons permission.

We take a break from Louis Dazy’s punchy colors and moody double exposures to revisit one of his old works. In a set from a few years ago called Smokescreen, the Paris-based film photographer showcased his eye for sentimental imagery sans the hues and overlaps that have become his signature style.

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Why More Megapixels Are Actually Better for Black and White Photography

This is going to sound a bit odd, I mean how the heck are megapixels and black and white correlated?

Does it have to do with details? Well, no; not really. Instead, it has to do with the capabilities of your camera sensor, and more often than not, lower megapixel cameras aren’t as capable when it comes to editing. Smaller megapixel cameras are great when it comes to high ISO output. But with higher megapixels, you often get a vast dynamic range and colors. Believe it or not, that’s precisely what you want and need here.

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Cheap Photo: The Ultimate Guide to Black and White Photography, Now $200 Off

Black and White photography is often seen as simpler than working in color – the trick is in the nuance

In this day and age color reigns supreme and black and white photography is often an afterthought to many photographers. But there is something about the medium, a complicated nuance that is easy to overlook due to its perceived simplicity. If you have ever tried to work in black and white, not just applying presets without much thought, then you know how powerful black and white can be if you take the time to master it.

Thankfully, you don’t have to do it all with trial and error. The Ultimate Guide to Black and White Portrait Photography is a collection of two courses that cover everything you could want to know about black and white portraiture over the course of 6 ½ hours. It is normally $250 but thanks to an incredible deal you can currently get your hands on it for just $49.

Interested? Get the Ultimate Black and White Portrait Photography Guide.

But of course, this isn’t the only deal worth talking about today…

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Avoiding Too Much Clarity and Sharpness in Black and White Photography

I think we’ve all seen it: photography that follows a simple recipe.

It’s in the black and white world, and it goes something like this: convert to black and white > raise clarity > raise sharpness > raise contrast > export. Sometimes they’re done well, but more often than not, that’s very rare. Most of the time, the images look like tacky digital simulations due to people not understanding light and exactly what’s going on. All of this has its roots in the film days.

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Black and White Photography is Truly The Best Way to Embrace Image Noise And You Shouldn’t Be Ashamed About it

Editor’s Note: This is one of La Noir Image’s free blog posts. You can subscribe for as little as $15/year. But there are more goodies at the higher tiers.

Years ago, there were photographers who used to tell me that converting an image to black and white just to save it from high ISO noise is the lazy way to go about working with the image. And further, if the image couldn’t be de-noised, then throw it out. You failed. There wasn’t another chance. You should be ashamed. But that toxicity is really just that–toxicity. It’s an old world mentality that was probably formed and shaped by internet trolls and more toxicity that actually happened in real life. This was in the days of early digital. As I’ve grown older myself, I’ve learned that those statements are incredibly false and that it’s completely wrong of us as photographers to push this on newer artists. The primary goal is to create an image that people will like. That’s it. You goal isn’t to satisfy photographers–generally speaking lots of photographers won’t buy a print made by other photographers unless they’re some sort of great master.

And perhaps that’s one of the biggest problems in the photography world that we don’t understand and that we don’t care about enough.

When it comes to getting critiques, the mainstream way is to get critiques from other photographers online for free. That’s a fantastic way for photographers to do it when they’re just starting out. But when you want to go even further, you need to look at a different target audience. Photo Editors such as those at publications, are the ones who look at the images of other photographers all the time. That’s how you get better. And even then, to each their own. The Photo Editor of the NYTimes will look for something much different than the Photo Editor at GQ. You can’t sit there and say that you’ll see the images of Brad Pitt recently done for GQ anywhere in the NYTimes. They’re just completely different standards and yet their audiences tend to intersect in different ways.

All of this comes full circle back to the black and white photography world. If you’ve never heard the saying “Black and white is a weakness” then you’re pretty lucky. But the truth is in the end that if an image looks good in black and white, then it looks good in black and white. And no matter what, any photographer who made the effort to actually make their images look good no matter what should be applauded. It shouldn’t be shamed because it shows genuine effort instead of wanting to post something so incredibly, stupidly flawed. That’s not to say that there can’t be any sort of beauty found in flawed images, but in the case of digital cameras there usually isn’t vs film analog.

So why does a high ISO digital photo look good in black and white? Because very few people who may try to license or buy your image can tell the difference. It looks like film. Do you have any idea how many people are out there that think that their images look like film but they’re not actually film at all? You’d be shocked at the misinformation out there being abundant. However, to unfortunately play into it this conversion process lends itself to images that have a classic look and feel to them. They’re made astonishingly simple and that makes the mind’s eye happy. In the end, that’s what we care about.

Don’t think this matters? Let’s take the very famous Eddie Adams image of a General executing a rebel. Let’s think more about this. What do we see here? We see a man being assassinated. His hands are tied behind his back, he’s scared. He’s sorry. And there is nothing he can do. He’s hopeless. It’s a frightening moment. But at the same time, it’s a very shocking moment.

An image like this helped end the war because of its interpretation: all that people saw was a horrifying incident that haunted the general for years to come. It wasn’t Eddie’s intent, he was simply documenting the scene. Very few people really know or understand the story behind the image. And obviously, at the time people didn’t care. They’re more caught up with the content. As long as the content in the image is gripping, it’s bound to force emotions out of people. And in that way, you can cover up or embrace those flaws that others may be distracted by with a simple conversion to black and white.

How Do Leading Lines Work in Black and White Photography? (Premium)

Leading lines: they’re one of the first things that every photographer learns about when it comes to shooting images in school. If you learned online and without format training, then you probably studied the rule of thirds first. But when you’re looking at a photo, one of the best ways ro artfully create an image that photographers have traditionally been taught is by using leading lines. Call it a rule that needs to be broken, it’s still a very effective one that when done correctly, can trump pretty much any other rule out there with the exception of using text in an image. For many years, black and white photography was the way to go. But when color came around, things changed quite a bit. So let’s explore leading lines and black and white photography.

What are Leading Lines?

First and foremost, what are leading lines? Well, let’s look at the image above. The main lines in the image are:

  • The shadows of the people on the boardwalk
  • The people casting shadows
  • The horizon that goes inwards to the people
  • The lines and patterns that the birds are making

Why are these leading lines? Well, it’s because those are the areas that are leading a person’s eye around a scene. That’s more or less what leading lines do. Leading lines in photography find a way to take the viewer’s eye and direct it to exactly what the photographer wants someone to look at. Some photographers think about this later on while others are on point and look at it as it happens. Typically, the latter requires a specific creative vision but it can also just come with an understanding of how light works.

Leading lines can be used in conjunction with other compositional methods like working with the rule of thirds for example. They’re an inherent part of geometry–which is what Henri-Cartier Bresson worked with and that a number of other photographers work with every day. And in order to make the most effective, there needs to be a whole lot of contrast. But we’ll get into that deeper later on. As a preface, these days the movement of urban geometry and cityscape photographers tend to work the most with leading lines. They work just fine during the day, but arguably when they tend to come out the most is during the night. At nighttime, there tends to be a whole lot more contrast.

Understanding When Leading Lines are Most Effective

Now, let’s get something straight here: not every image will have leading lines per se. But you can find them in an image through cropping, editing, or even composing in a specific way. The old school photography minded folks out there will think that the image above is absolutely horrible due to the leading line that it cutting the man’s head off. This is why photographers use techniques such as depth of field and decluttering their background. Of course that works when you’re not being candid and quick, but you’d otherwise need to take your time and search for a background that isn’t visually distracting. The old school mentality would call this image a technical failure even though new school techniques would find it acceptable.

This is a problem that can be pretty easily fixed in post-production. The long way of doing this is by creating a mask and lightening up that entire area. But that becomes too tedious and not always fun.

In the example above, I simply created a gradient from the side going into the center and lightened the entire right side of the photo. It still looks pretty natural and the line doesn’t have as big of an effect now because it’s not extending out into the very end of the image. In this case, the leading line effectively worked against us but it can be negated pretty easily if you’re just careful. This satisfies both schools of thought.

Leading lines can also work really well when they’re not there simply because the human eye is designed to look at something and make sense of it. The example above with the roller coaster showcases that pretty well. It goes from tallest, to slightly shorter, to even shorter. It’s using the horizon to make your eye create a sort of triangle.

In Color vs Black and White: The Contrast

Believe it or not, black and white works significantly different when it comes to creating leading lines and working with them vs color. With color, you’ve got various shades of the ROYGBIV spectrum and colors can be used subtly to differentiate one subject from the other. Photographers have been using this technique for years. Here are a few examples:

  • Steve McCurry’s portraits
  • Landscape photography
  • Pretty much almost all of drone photography

Color is more or less easy to work with, but black and white is…well, different. Where color relies on luminance/saturation of colors, black and white photography relies on their tonality more so when it comes to working with leading lines. 

I want you to take a look at this example above. Can you guess which building was a shade of green? If you’re guessing the one all the way at the end, you’d be wrong. Instead instead the building with scaffolding on it. That building was a light shade of green but because of how light that shade is, it tends to blend in with in the white buildings on the right side of the frame. The buildings on the left were more greyish. However, just by looking at this image in black and white, you couldn’t tell.

So how do you use that effectively when it comes to leading lines? For starters, ensure that there is a high degree of contrast in the scene. Then ask yourself these questions:

  • What colors are in the scene?
  • Are each of these colors bright or dark?
  • What is the ratio of bright to dark colors in the scene?
  • Do these colors contrast a whole lot if you were to make them monochrome? Further, are there enough bright colors next to dark colors that create contrast and layers?
  • Do those tones end up leading our eyes around the scene in a specific way? How?
  • Is the scene distracting?
  • Should I step forward or move back?

Let’s start out with these.

Winners of MonoVisions Black and White Photography Awards 2017 Announced

Screenshot taken from the MonoVisions Black & White Photography Awards Website

Fans of black and white photography, rejoice: the winning snaps of the first annual MonoVisions Black & White Photography Awards have been recently announced, and they are absolutely stunning.

From over 4,000 international submissions, a handful of Single and Series entries were selected for 12 categories, including Abstract, Conceptual, Fine Art, Landscapes, Travel, and Photojournalism. Dutch Photographer Kars Tuinder was awarded the Black & White Photo of the Year 2017 and $2000 cash prize, while British photographer Anup Shah bagged the Black & White Series of the Year 2017 and $3000 cash prize.

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NYRoamer: Timeless, Classic, Seductive Black and White Photography (Premium Interview)

All images by Ashley NYRoamer. Used with permission.

“There is something so alluring and soulful to me about black and white images.” says Photographer Ashley NYRoamer, an Instagrammer and a member of the Sony Alpha Collective who shoots a whole lot in black and white. “I feel they are timeless, classic, and seductive.” Based in NYC, she sees the world in lines, light and moments. But most importantly, she isn’t techy. Instead, she’s straight up just artistic. Ashley is one of the many photographers who has found recent fame due to Instagram as have a lot of others in the Urban Geometry community.

By combining just the right tones and lighting, Ashley captures moments in cities that aren’t so much of a one trick pony as you’re probably used to seeing in the Instagram hashtags. Instead, her work varies from being minimalist, linear, and sometimes even gives us a number of angles for us to check out.

Talk to us about how you got into photography.

My dad bought me a Nikon DSLR, that I had intermittently played with over the years. I remember going to Alaska in 2010 and really taking an interest in shooting the landscape. It wasn’t until Instagram that I really began to focus on taking pictures regularly,

So what attracted you to Urban Geometry? It’s a genre you seem to shoot a whole lot of.

It was a natural process for me, living in NYC. It’s so easy to come across these lines and shapes in the city, mixed with the beautiful scenery of buildings, streets, architecture, and various subjects. I feel like NY is a photographer’s playground.

You indeed shoot color, but the majority of your work is in black and white. So why do you tend to go more for black and white than color?

I began shooting solely color, but fell in love with black and white photography about 2-3 years ago. There is something so alluring and soulful to me about black and white images. I feel they are timeless, classic, and seductive.

If you weren’t doing photography, how do you feel you’d try to creatively express yourself? Do you feel that maybe because of your predisposition to black and white that you may have gotten into charcoal drawings?

I have always appreciated art and creativity. I can’t imagine myself not taking pictures, so it almost difficult to imagine any other creative outlet. However, I did love drawing and painting as a kid, so it is quite possible that I would have explored that. I also played the violin for 15 years, so it is possible I would have explored musics.

What are some ways that you’ve continued to stay motivated and shooting? Do you think that having a day job gives you that sense of balance at all?

I feel so fortunate to live in a place like NYC, which constantly provides so much visual stimulation and countless opportunities to photograph. Again, it is a photographer’s playground, there is simply never a dull moment. I think simply living in in the city constantly feeds my passion to photograph everything. It is a passionate hobby that continues to inspire me.

I do think having a day job, one that is not creative, provides me with balance. Working in corporate America, with facts and figures, deadlines, analyses, and the need for continued solutions can sometimes leave me feeling frazzled. The opportunity to snap a few pictures after a long, stressful day is cathartic.

As you’ve gotten more and more into photography over the years, what photographers do you feel have influenced you and your work?

I was first exposed on Instagram to black and white photography, in following @mr007. His images opened a door for me, which perpetuated a fascination with black and white photography, and lead me to explore the works of the great Ansel Adams, obviously more nature based, Vivian Maier, Henri Carter Bresson, Irving Penn. I am blown away by Vivian Maier’s incredible work.

Do you feel that moving to the city has changed the way that you think about art and photography? How so?

I don’t think moving to the city has necessarily changed how I think, but I believe photography in general has done that. I am incapable of looking at beautiful scenery (no matter where I am) without wanting to immediately capture it. If I see gorgeous sunlight or light reverberations, I am immediately reaching for my camera. It has changed the way I see everything.

Where are some of your favorite places to photograph in NYC? What makes them so magical?

That is a difficult question, as there is simply never a dull moment in NY. I can be on my way to shoot Central Park, which is one of my favorite places to be, and I will see ten other things on my way that I snap. There are great areas like the Village or Chinatown, or Lower East side, great for street photography and amazing subjects, but, I don’t limit myself. No matter how many times I see it, standing on the Manhattan Bridge and shooting the Brooklyn bridge and cityscape, still amazes me. Standing in Jersey City and looking at lower Manhattan still amazes me. I think it is the view of the city that sill excites me. We are a resilient, strong, and beautiful city. Seeing the World Trade Center will still bring me chills and sends a message of hope.

What do you think is more important: shooting what you feel or feeding the Instagram algorithm machine? How do you tend to maintain a balance?

Shooting what you feel is much more important. I don’t understand the algorithm machine and I never will. I have never been a suggested user, I grew organically, and I have never been on the “fast track” algorithm that many people are, which means, they get insane likes no matter what is posted. I think it can get very old and monotonous, to continue to post solely for likes — feeding the audience the cliche shots of Empire State Building everyday. While it is beautiful to me, I sometimes find myself wondering where the creativity is. I have much more appreciation for an image that captures amazing light and the silhouette of someone,as opposed to an image which may simply “feed” the algorithm machine and uses no skill.

I try to maintain a balance by posting what I love. I learned long ago on Instagram that black and white photography was the minority. Therefore, if it was just about seeking likes, I picked the wrong choice! (ha)

Talk to us about your rise on Instagram. What do you feel have been your bigger turning points?

When I started on instagram, I posted silly pics of my personal life- food, dogs, etc. As I became more interested in photography, that changed and my feed improved. I think for me, the pivotal point was when I started posting better images, that I felt were artistic and of good quality. I had been iPhone for a long time, The absolute turning point for me was getting a Sony alpha camera. The quality of pictures did not compare to what I had previously posted.Sony Alpha for me was the absolute turning point, about 2 years ago.

What about the gear that you use? Tell us about that and the way that you process your photos?

I feel like I should be embarrassed to say that (ha!) I am still shooting with a Sony a6000. I almost feel it is antiquated at this point!
I have had my eye on the a7, which I will probably get soon. I predominantly use the kit lens which is the 16-50 mm. I also sometimes use the 55-210 mm lens.

I am also probably the only one who STILL (ha!) edits on my iPhone. I minimally edit my pictures, for better or worse. My go to edit is snapped and filterstorm. I try to really preserve the integrity of the picture and only usually sharpen and crop the picture.

What do you tend to do to keep your work fresh?

That is a difficult question, as I don’t “think” too much about what I shoot. I shoot what I love, what I see, and what I feel. It comes very naturally to me. I am drawn to light, as most of us are and it seems so easy to find in NY and there are so many opportunities. I also find my love of black and white photography draws me to moody street scenes, like a rainy day in the city that depicts a man holding an umbrella. Timeless classics appeal to me and those Vivian Maier style scenes drive me.

So what’s on the horizon for you Ashley? How do you see yourself progressing as an artist within the next year due to the ever changing industry?

I feel fortunate to have this as my passionate hobby, it is something that continues to interest and challenge me. Instagram has changed in many ways, much not for the best, but I am grateful to have met so many amazing creatives. I am grateful to be a part of the Sony Alpha Collective, as I feel shooting with Sony has changed my life and provided so many wonderful opportunities for me. I will be grateful to remain a part of Sony and strive to continue to improve my skills. Having just returned from the Sony Kando trip was just the dose of inspiration I needed. It also further solidified my devotion and appreciation of the Sony Alpha family.