Black and White Photography – Mood and Depth

I have shared on a number of my posts, my love of black and white photography. I have always been drawn to it for a variety of reasons, two of which I wanted to talk about today; mood and depth.

Eliminating color from a picture can create an entirely new more interesting image. Key word there is “can”. It doesn’t compliment or help create a visual story on every image, but on certain images it tells a better story to the viewer than leaving it color. Two of the elements that are impacted by using monochrome coloring are mood and depth.

Eliminating the visual busyness of color helps create a mood to a capture. Yes, it is typically more of a somber mood, but this can add flavor to the overall look the photographer is going for.

Black and white can also enhance contrast between visual elements highlighting depth to a particular capture.

I have attached three black and white photographs from my gallery that highlight both of these elements.

In this example, the subject matter presented in black and white helps create a somber rather subdued tone to this capture. The photograph was taken an a cold, cloudy winter day. The barren tree branches reinforce this element of season, but also due to the stark contrast from the background help build depth to the visual experience. It recreates what I felt on the day I took the shot…it was a rather gloomy day and I loved the element of this carriage house being tucked back from the main property.

In this capture the light centered on the walkway creates a brighter and more upbeat mood. That aspect is reinforced as there isn’t any competition with color which allows the shaft of light to take center stage. The element of depth is supported in a more subtle way with this shot. Your eye is pulled to the center of the frame due to the shaft of light, but then meanders around the curve of the walkway back into the picture realizing there is more going on further into the picture under those hanging tree branches. The various shapes and contrasting darkness over lighter backgrounds create this depth.

The black and white aspect to this last capture creates a very neutral mood in that this could have been taken on a bright sunny day or a cloudy day. The biggest impact for this is depth. The dark tree branches frame an ocean coastline and reinforce the point of view as being high above the pounding surf. The foreground of craggy tree branches as the darkest element create the starting point to depth. Your eye is then pulled into the frame across the surf to the bluff across the way…distance and depth.  Thoughts?

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33 thoughts on “Black and White Photography – Mood and Depth

  1. Jet Eliot

    You did an excellent job of describing the effect, Kirt, and demonstrating it in the respective photograph. That first one is my favorite, and it truly embraces somberness. Very informative post, thank you.

    Reply
    1. Kirt D Tisdale Post author

      I am partial to the first one also….thanks appreciate the feedback! I have always been drawn to black and white photography for the two reasons I talked about….by eliminating the distraction of color you can focus more on depth and it also creates a mood. Doesn’t work for all shots but those where it does…creates a totally different look!

      Reply
  2. Dan Antion

    Beautiful photos Kirt, and thanks for the explanation. I’ve always loved certain B&W photos, but I never tried to describe the feelings. You did a pretty good job!

    Reply
  3. Satpura Tiger Reserve

    Delightful photographs Kirt, and a debt of gratitude is in order for the clarification. I’ve generally cherished certain B&W photographs, yet I never attempted to portray the sentiments. You made an entirely decent showing with regards to!..

    Reply
  4. mrmickca

    Excellent post. I don’t often embrace black&white photography as much as I maybe should and this article makes me want to go out and see what I can make.

    Reply
    1. Kirt D Tisdale Post author

      I have always been drawn to B&W….my early photography was nothing but….I think it creates a more dramatic look!! Thanks for the feedback and thanks for stopping by!!

      Reply
      1. myblackandwhite

        I’m not a pro either.. Friends telling me to put some color on my pictures but I don’t know why I fell like that’s not me.. I wish I can say please come to my blog but there is nothing since I just started hahaha

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