Oscar Lopez’s Stunning Black and White Architectural Photography

All photos by Oscar Lopez. Used with Creative Commons permission.

Much of the exemplary architectural photography we’ve seen is done in the style of minimalist and contrasty monochrome, with an emphasis on urban geometry. In his Waterfront Cityscapes series, however, Germany-based Oscar Lopez shows us a more calming take on the tried and tested style by combining long exposures and punchy black and white imagery. If you’re looking for more ideas and inspiration for your next shoot around a harbor city, this body of work makes a great study.

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Dimpy Bhalotia: Pure Black and White Street Photography of Life’s Beauty

All images by Dimpy Bhalotia. Used with permission.

Street photography may just be one way of seeing and capturing the world for many for us. But for Bombay-born, fashion design student turned street photographer Dimpy Bhalotia, it’s both the toughest and purest form of creative photography, for reasons every street photographer is familiar with. It requires patience, a lot of walking around, a keen sense of observation, and perfect timing to capture the so-called “decisive moment”. Nothing is left to imagination here, and the stories captured are not works of fiction. This, she says, makes it the “most truthful art in the world.”

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Marit Beer’s Black and White Analog Photography Is Bound to Enthrall You (NSFW)

This is a syndicated blog post from the latest issue of Analog Magazine. This collectible coffee table book showcases many of the best new analog photographers out there, and we strongly recommend you pick one up. The text was originally published by Analog magazine. Issue #6. 2018 II, and is being reproduced with the permission of the author. All images © Marit Beer

Hello Marit, thank you for this interview. Can you please introduce yourself for us?

I live in Berlin, but my roots are in a woody and legendary region of Germany, surrounded by a devil’s wall, witches dancing in the mountains and a town that was very old and damaged when I was a child. I studied archaeology, art history and heritage conservation. Currently I am working as a freelance photo editor.

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How to Think in Black and White When Shooting Street Photography

In a world rich in colour and vibrancy, it’s time to think a little more black and white.

The modern world is spoiled for choice when it comes to cameras, gadgets, and editing tools that bring out the beautiful colours in your photographs. I just got the Fuji XT2 and I’m learning all about those famously addictive ‘Fuji Colours’. But even in modern times, there is still a demand for that classic black and white look.

If you’re thinking of taking the colour out of your work, here are some tips on how to think in black and white when shooting street photography.

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The Digital Photographer’s Introduction to Black and White Film Photography

Black and white film photography is more complicated than you may have thought.

Black and white film photography is back for sure. And with many folks returning to film photography, I wanted to pass on some knowledge that wasn’t given to me initially. Everyone always used to say, “Go shoot Tri-X,” and that was it. After shooting with other films, all that means to me now is that they didn’t know anything else beyond that. There are so many more films beyond that and so much more you should know.

Another myth is that black and white film is more or less the same when it comes to versatility. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. There are black and white equivalents for negative and positive films. Still confused? We’ll show you the differences. Prepare to be surprised.

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Black and White vs Desaturation: Which One is Better for Photography?

Working on creating a better black and white photo? This can surely help.

Lots of photographers love black and white photography; we’re not the only ones for sure! When it comes to working with the format, it can be confusing how to go about working with those types of images. Awhile back, Adobe’s Sharad Mangalick gave us some great advice and told us about how both black and white and desaturation work. They’re quite different from one another and while many photographers who don’t know a whole lot about editing may go right for desaturation, it isn’t the best way for working with a black and white image. But why?

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Film Photography Matters Because Black and White Still Matters

There is a whole generation of photographers who still haven’t experienced film photography

At a time where photography has evolved in leaps and bounds in digital advancements, why do some people still choose to shoot with film? Why does this obsolete technology persist? There are a hundred reasons a film photographer today will tell you, but Ian Wong of Digital Darkroom has a rather interesting view to it: film photography matters because black and white still matters.

Ian dropped this thought against the equally interesting shopping scene of Tokyo’s Ginza and Akihabara districts in the latest episode of Digital Darkroom. To document his explorations, he loaded his Contax T3 with two special rolls of black and white films: Kodak Tri-X 400 and JCH Street Pan 400. He shared many other thoughts that analog lovers can definitely relate to, so I’ll let you hear them from him straight in this video.

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An Introduction to the World of Black and White Instant Photography (Premium)

Lead image by Doctor Popular

When we think about Polaroids and Instant photography, we’re sure to think about and associate most of our memories with color. But if you didn’t know any better, you’d probably just completely skip the fact that there is indeed black and white instant film out there. Though arguably mostly in use with artists due to its higher price tag, the various black and white instant films are capable of delivering really stunning photo results providing that you’ve got the other ingredients of the photo just right. Fairly recently, Fujifilm discontinued 3000B–which was the last and arguably the best black and white Instant film made. In its absence, other films have appeared on the market though nothing is really available for cameras that used the peel apart film.

If you’re looking to understand more of the black and white Instant film market though, then consider the following.

Fujifilm Instax Monochrome

Fujifilm took its sweet time getting a monochrome film out to the public. Why? I’m honestly not quite sure. But it’s a fantastic film overall that has interesting characteristics to it. Fujifilm Instax Monochrome is a film that is designed to be business card sized. The small size is loved by so many people and its main demographic are young adults. Additionally, photographers who just like black and white film may enjoy using it with a more advanced Instax camera of some sort. Fujifilm Instax Monochrome is unlike a lot of other modern instant films. Like the original Polaroids, they developed in a fairly quick amount of time and didn’t have much of any sort of problems doing so except in the cold weather. In cold weather, it still does a pretty decent job vs many other instant films. The reason for this is because the emulsion is just slightly different enough that it doesn’t totally completely freeze and can still do pretty well even when it’s just above freezing temperatures outside. It’s still obviously capable of freezing due to the fact that there are real chemicals inside of the pod though–so keep that in mind.

Fujifilm Instax Monochrome does a swell job with higher end Instax series cameras like the Mint TL70 2.0, Lomography Lomo’Instant, Lomography Diana F+ with the Instant back and glass lenses, and finally the Lomography Lomo’Instant Glass, Oddly enough, none of Fujifilm’s own cameras incorporate glass lenses. So to that end, the image quality won’t be that sharp. But if you’re looking to play with Instant film then chances are that you’ll really like the softness that the plastic lenses can give you. Fujifilm Instax Monochrome is a pretty standard contrast film. Essentially, it’s like taking the scene that you’re shooting and removing the colors. So to that end I honestly recommend sometimes underexposing the film just a little bit. However, it can also look pretty special when shooting it overexposed–if you’re into that look.

New55

New55 has a very interesting story behind them. You see, the Impossible Project went after the more conventional and famous films. But Polaroid also produced a Type 55 film that wasn’t as famous. So New55 took it upon themselves to go after that market. The results that I’ve seen with this film are absolutely stunning and part of this comes from the fact that it’s all available in larger formats that need to be used with fantastic cameras. New55 has been working to improve their film over and over again. With each generation it gets better. With their recent PN films, they were trying to improve the reliability and the quality of the pods which contain the chemicals. They don’t exactly have the pizzazz and wonder that the other brands can inspire and part of that is because they tend to stay a bit more quiet about their options. However, the quality issues are indeed something that they state they’re trying to work on. Besides this, you’ll really want to keep it in the fridge or freezer so as to make it last beyond the typical six month lifespan before expiration kicks in.

So what’s so special about New55? They’re the last film that easily produces one negative image and one positive print. This was always available with Fujifilm peel apart film for years but now it’s only available in large format instant for New55. To develop your negative, New55 sells a monobath as well though in many cases they recommend using Ilford’s option.

Impossible Project Black and White Film (Different Formats)

The Impossible Project has had it pretty tough for a while now. They were in the process of reverse engineering the original Polaroid film and after three generations of working with the product, they’ve finally got something that works in black and white pretty well. Previously, the images faded and really needed to be shielded from light after being shot. They don’t need the shield any more but I personally still recommend it. After a few weeks or months though, the film will turn sepia in color. Indeed, the Impossible project really does have an impossible task considering that what’s holding them back so hard right now are environmental standards in Europe (where the film is manufactured) that don’t allow them to do everything that they can.

With that said though, Impossible Project’s black and white film offerings come in a variety of sizes–namely 8×10, 600, SX-70 and Spectra. They’re known to be very beautiful but the issue is that most people haven’t seen what the film is truly capable of. To do this, I strongly recommend going to a gallery of prints where the film was shot. Additionally, using cameras with more manual control (like Mint’s SLR670) is one of the best ways to get the most from the film. With that said, obviously loading it up into an 8×10 camera will give you top notch results that digital files only wish they had. If you’re willing to trash your positive print, Impossible project film has a negative inside that’s pretty tough to get your hands on and requires more work than you may care for.

Like many of the other black and white films out there, the film has standard contrast. Like many other Instant films, it doesn’t handle highlights incredibly well. In fact, they’re pretty much going to be blown out with black and white instant film so you may always want to underexpose just a tad. With that said, working with the film can be a bit difficult because you never quite know what the results will be unless you’re in a controlled studio space.. Your best bet is to use a handheld light meter.

Jihane Darkaoui: Black and White Street Photography in Morocco

All images by Jihane Darkaoui. Used with permission.

I’m a 19 year old Moroccan medical student drawn to photography for the many emotions it conveys. Seeing the world through a lens is like seeing a brand new world. I shoot with the Nikon D7100 18-140mm, and rarely with the Pentax K1000. I’ve been shooting since February 2017.

Don McCullin is to me a true legend of the photographic world. His work has depicted the impoverished, the unemployed, the downtrodden, etc. He inspires me to capture images that have a voice. The Flickr community inspires me as well. Every photo teaches you something. Photography is a creative process. There is always something new to learn. And we need to hone that skill every single day.

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Take a Trip With John Emery’s Astonishing Black and White Landscape Photography

All images and words by John Emery. Used with permission. Be sure to follow him on Instagram @jemeryphoto

My number one goal as a photographer is to capture a moment in time as I experienced it when I released the shutter button. I want people to look at a photograph that I took and to feel as if they were standing there with me at the moment I took it. My specialty is the natural landscape in black and white – I’ve always been attracted to the drama, texture, detail, and contrast of a well-done black and white photograph.

I had just turned 23 and had never left the eastern time zone. On a whim I flew to Las Vegas, rented a car, and visited the Grand Canyon. I was woefully unprepared for the trip – I hadn’t seen snow in 15 years and it made me realize that south Florida living had made me ill-prepared for northern Arizona in late November. Regardless, I was hooked. Since that first trip I have been all over the country, and with each successive trip more photographic equipment joined me.

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Mastering the Art of Black and White Urban Geometry Photography (Premium)

Urban Geometry began as a major movement a few years ago as a combination of both street photography and architecture. It can surely be done in color, but many of the movement’s most effective images are done in black and white. Peruse Instagram, Behance and many other hubs for photographic artistry and you’re bound to find loads of captivating and incredible photos based solely on this medium. Urban Geometry is an interesting genre in that typically it’s a process centered around capturing something; but the final result only really comes out after processing. So if you’re looking to find a way to understand the art form better and get more in tune with your own creative abilities to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, then read ahead.

The Science Behind Geometry

Since we began being a species, human beings have tried to find a way to organize and make sense of the environment around them. This natural predisposition lends itself well to geometry. Henri Cartier-Bresson stated that he was an artist that found a way to look at geometric shapes in the world and capture them in an appealing way. Urban Geometry is the modern evolution of that idea and it has only progressed so fast as of recent due to the internet and the simple ability for people to upload and share photos at a moment’s notice. That’s part of what makes Urban Geometry so appealing–the fact that it uses shapes, tones, lighting, and the frame to lead the eye around in a way that it simple to digest.

Seeing the world in the form of shapes is pretty simple to begin with. Just look at the everyday objects around you: brick walls, shelving units, floors, etc. Then move into the very minute details of it all by looking for abstracts.

For example the photo above could have easily been thought of to be an area around a parking lot or a grate of some sort. It’s actually the exterior part of an air purifier. But there are things that work for it such as the stark contrast between the brights and darks combined with the darkness to the light.

When shooting, you’ll eventually learn how to see the world in different tones, but more on that will come later.

Geometric shapes, such as the example shown off earlier in this section, and your ability to see them will eventually come to you as you go around the world looking for them. In fact, I strongly recommend that you go around not photographing at all. Instead, look around the world and let it all just come to you. Start out in a big city with big buildings. You’ll eventually get that feeling of “I wish I had my camera with me.”

“For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to “give a meaning” to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of the mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry.”
― Henri Cartier-Bresson

Making it Work Within Your Format (4:3, 3:2, 16:9)

Besides just seeing the world in terms of geometric shapes, you’ll also need to figure out a way to frame it all. Most cameras work within the 4:3 or 3:2 formats, but your mind probably doesn’t see or think that way. Maybe you think square! As a tutorial example, take a look at how the photo above takes the buildings and finds a way to make them look seamlessly meshing together.

Now imagine if that were focusing into a more defined area.

Now here’s what a square crop of that idea looks like. It’s interesting in that it adheres to what the photographer is trying to accomplish but it also is focusing in on a more minute detail. This harkens back to the idea of finding the abstracts around you in everyday life. This was only possible with a square crop from the original 4:3 imaging area shot. Sometimes it’s easy to find a different sort of crop within a larger frame that works.

If that’s too tight for you, then maybe a 16:9 crop can work. This crop works for the same reasons that the square did but includes more shades, tones and patterns. It looks incredibly seamless and adds more balance to the entire scene.

LOOK FOR PATTERNS

In big cities, it can be difficult to not find patterns. Consider the following: many buildings in any given neighborhood are designed to look and feel the same due to the fact that it creates a sense of uniformity in a neighborhood within a city. So with that said, it can be tough to not find patterns or similarity. Lots of pre-war apartment buildings look the same if they were targeted to one social class vs the other. By studying the individual areas and pieces of these buildings, you’re going to find patterns. Similarly, if you look at larger, all glass buildings, then you’re bound to find patterns.

Let’s take a look at an example:

When looking at the building above, one can see that there are clear patterns. Let’s identify them:

  • The textures
  • The tones
  • The colors
  • The placement and distance of the windows

Now that you’ve identified them, we can find a way to focus on a specific section of the building.

This image was created using a 16:10 crop then working with the highlights, shadows, blacks, whites, contrast and clarity. It’s far different from what you may have been looking at, but part of the magic of Urban Geometry comes out in post.

It’s all about Contrast, Light, UpRight tool and Tones

Urban geometry has a whole lot to do with the editing process. With that said, photographers should look out for the contrast, tones, and lighting. To start, consider the ROYGBIV spectrum. The theories behind the spectrum state that colors on either end clash with one another. For example, Red and Blue are on total ends of the spectrum; so in terms of color coordination they contrast a whole lot. To that end, reds and blues will clash and create contrast within a scene.

But hold on, that’s not totally true. If they’re pastel shades of red and blue, then they’re going to contrast a whole lot less because they’re both lighter in color and mixed in with white. On the other hand, a darker red will create a whole lot more contrast with a lighter blue. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Where is the color on the RGB Spectrum?
  • Where is the main color in relation to Green?
  • What is the clashing color?
  • Where is the clashing color in relation to my main color?
  • What shades are the main color and the clashing color? That is, how dark are they?
  • Which is darker?
  • Is there a stark contrast between the dark and light?

The ultimate combination is finding a clash between darks and lights. In Black and white photography, that’s what it’s all about. Otherwise, it can be very difficult to tell a light, seafoam green apart from a shade of tickle me pink.

Additionally, in Urban Geometry the Adobe Lightroom Upright tool can be very useful. It will work to make your lines and straight and geometric as possible.

Now get out there and shoot!

Vince Alongi: Capturing Street Photography Scenes in Black and White

All images and words by Vince Alongi. Used with permission.

On black and white photography, I feel you can create a timeless view of a scene that strips away the unnecessary such as coloring of clothing, mute styles and really capture the players in the story. In a landscape or cityscape, that will put a focus on the structures and mood. To express your vision in black, white and shadows it can really leave an impact on feeling rather than getting caught up in tones of colors.

Though I don’t approach a situation looking to render this in b/w, it comes out in the processing stage. I’m starting to train myself, however, to view the world as if I’m colorblind. I enjoy the noirish feel in visual arts- there’s a romantic, edgy, classical feel when someone can capture and create a vision without color being the focal point. I strive to be part of that, hopefully produce images that will give people pause.

Editor’s Note: in a previous version of this article, we misspelled Vince’s name. We apologize for this.

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Ilme Vysniauskaite: On The Intimacy of Black and White Film Photography

All images by Ilme Vysniauskaite. Used with permission.

Black and white photography is so incredibly personal to some of us, and Ilme  Vysniauskaite generally feels the same way just about film photography despite mostly shooting in black and white. You see, she grew up in a post-soviet time and was shaped by many things around her during her younger days. Ilme submitted to be featured in her analog zine, and her submission is being featured here on our website.

Surely, my words do not even begin to do hers justice.

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Black and White Bangkok: The Street Photography of Jordan Stead

Jordan Stead

All images by Jordan Stead. Used with permission.

Photography has the power to transform the perspective of both viewer and photographer. The images that stick can transport you a world away and truly convey the soul of their subjects. The Black and White Street photographs by Jordan Stead inspire wanderlust while capturing the true soul of the places he’s traveled.

Seattle-based photographer Jordan Stead considers himself to be a visual storyteller, and has over a decade of experience creating images for both editorial and commercial clients. Jordan has a natural love for life that comes across in his personal work as well as in his writing.

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Black and White Street Photography/Urban Geometry Tutorial Adorama Workshop

We’ve got a new workshop setup for later this month. This Frameworks photography workshop is being done in collaboration with Adorama and is a two day intensive street photography/urban geometry workshop based in NYC. You can find the details at this link.

Also keep in mind: we’ve got another street photography workshop going on in LA (link) and a studio portrait workshop in NYC this weekend (link).

More details are after the jump.

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Daniel Zvereff: On Black and White Documentary Photography

This is a syndicated blog post from La Noir Image. It’s a preview of the type of content you’ll be able to get if we receive our Kickstarter funding.

All images by Daniel Zvereff. Used with permission.

Website

Instagram

Be sure to support our Kickstarter! We’re in the middle and could really use more funding! If you like stories like this, you’ll be able to get all this and more with La Noir Image the magazine

You’re a photographer that often shoots in color; and very vivid colors! So what creative choices typically make you shoot in black and white instead?

I’m not quite sure if there is a straightforward decision in my mind when working on a project that steers me towards color or black and white. I think its more of a feeling, something I can’t quite explain.

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Daniel Zvereff: On Black and White Documentary Photography

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All images by Daniel Zvereff. Used with permission.

Website

Instagram

Be sure to support our Kickstarter! We’re in the middle and could really use more funding! If you like stories like this, you’ll be able to get all this and more with La Noir Image the magazine

You’re a photographer that often shoots in color; and very vivid colors! So what creative choices typically make you shoot in black and white instead? 

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 I’m not quite sure if there is a straightforward decision in my mind when working on a project that steers me towards color or black and white. I think its more of a feeling, something I can’t quite explain.

Shooting color and the whole thought process of composition is much different than black and white. So when you go about composing and creating images for black and white, what thought processes are you typically adhering to and what are something that you’re always being conscious of? 

I grew up shooting exclusively in black and white my entire life up until the last few years. When I am shooting color, I am definitely still thinking in terms of black and white, I haven’t changed my thought process at all. I think I produce a better image when negating color from my mindset, I find it distracts me.

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What do you feel black and white does for a photo that color can’t do and do you feel that black and white is still very important to photography? Why? 

I don’t think there is something that color photography can’t do or vice versa. I think it all boils down to a process and idea– thats one of the joys of photography, choosing a medium that best fits ones concept. In the end, whatever it is you are trying to accomplish with your work, there are endless possibilities. 

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What’s your approach when it comes to photographing people for a project? How do you converse with them? 

Every approach is different, mostly, I find its about being open and having a little courage to break out of the comfort bubble of keeping to yourself. A lot of people are really open to being photographed and having a conversation.
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Talk to us about the gear you use and your favorite black and white film? 

I loved tri-x, still do, its not as good as it was in the early 2000s, but still great. I use Leica equipment for digital and 35mm formats. I also have a wonderful Rolleiflex 2.8F and a Mamiya 6 for 120mm format.

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Ed Fetahovic: Abstract Black and White Street Photography

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All images by Ed Fetahovic. Used with permission.

“I’m predominantly an abstract urban landscape photographer and sideline street photographer and am wondering if theres anything interesting on my website that you guys would like to feature.” says photographer Ed Fetahovic in an email to the Phoblographer.

Ed describes his approach to the medium as one of modernist art. He doesn’t only shoot black and white, but some of his strongest work is monochrome. If you consider his thought process, it makes sense. “I think people interact with geometric shapes and negative spaces on a deep and ethereal space beyond their conscious limitation which pushes me to bring more and more abstract urbanist photos to view.” says Ed about his work.

For Ed, photography is an artistic release.

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Amy Kanka Valadarsky: Black and White Fine Art Photography (NSFW)

Misthaven #1 (lost in thoughts)

This is a syndicated blog post from Women in Photography. It and the images here are being used with permission. All images by Amy Kanka Valadarsky. All text by Nicole Struppert.

If you haven’t checked out Nicole Struppert’s new blog called Women in Photography, then you really should. The site is dedicated to featuring, well, women in photography. But it also focuses on delivering and showcasing incredible work.

In this post, Nicole features the work of Amy Kanka Valadarsky. Check it out!

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