Category Archives: Black and White Photography

Sepia Tone or Black and White?

When you go with a monochrome presentation of a picture, you are presenting a scene, structure or object in tones of a singular color. I use black and white presentations usually to create a mood. In a sepia tone presentation it usually creates a “vintage” look since we associate that color tone to old-fashioned pictures. To illustrate this, I chose three shots of a subject that I have done in black and white and sepia tone.

The first picture is of Cape Blanco Lighthouse along the Oregon coastline.

The second capture is of an adobe located on the grounds of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.

And the third shot is of a barn nestled in a valley in Iowa.

Thoughts?

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Set The Mood – Black and White Photography

After the last few posts of fall colors, I’m doing a 180 with something I’ve talked about before and wanted to revisit with a couple of great examples in “setting the mood” with black and white photography.

I’ve attached a shot I call “Farm Water Pump”. The subject matter of the pump is not the first thing you see, but does pull your eye into the photo of an old fashion water pump on a farm just in front of some stables. The lack of color sets a subdued mood that works well with this type of composition.

I have also attached a shot I call ” Heritage Hill Mansion in Black and White”. The subject matter in this particular shot fills the field of vision with old Victorian architecture. Seeing this same shot in color focuses the eye on the intricacies of the architecture like a ginger bread house. By presenting this same composition in black and white, the visual mood created is an almost “haunting” look to this structure.

Not everyone is a fan of black and white photography, but don’t discount it in presenting certain types of compositions as it does create a mood. Thoughts?

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What Am I Seeing? Three Very Different Black and White Photographs

This week I wanted to take a look at three very different black and white photographs and tell you what I see.

As I have mentioned in my posts, I shoot everything in Raw format which means I shoot digitally capturing tremendous detail. It does take up memory and believe me my portfolio and archives have their own hard drive because of it. The reason I shoot with that much definition is that it allows me to “play’ with the end picture more.

The first picture is a cityscape of downtown Seattle with the Space Needle featured front and center. What do I see? I see the downtown towers and Space Needle sharply defined…very bold straight edges. I see the architecture dominating the capture because of that factor. As an additional element, I see the sharp contrast of the cloud formations from the high level clouds to the puffy cumulous in the background.  I see an architectural statement of Seattle with the subtle element of weather which Seattle is known for.

From a cityscape to a farm. What do I see? I see a mood created from an abandoned farm highlighted by showing it in black and white. I see barren tree branches and collapsing buildings that have a lonely element with no life. The black and white presentation allows this mood to be front and center without getting distracted by pops of color.

From the farm to Old Point Loma Lighthouse sitting on the entrance to San Diego Bay in Cabrillo National Monument. What do I see? I see the top of a lighthouse where the simple architecture of the structure points your eye upward to the light. I see what is a deep blue sky not taking center stage because the presentation in black and white makes it a supporting gray backdrop to the white structure and the intricate architecture of the top of the lighthouse.

Thoughts?

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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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Flagstaff Railroad Tracks – Excerpts From a Photo Shoot

This week’s excerpts from a photo shoot take us to Flagstaff, Arizona (the railroad tracks that run through Flagstaff to be exact). Flagstaff sits in northern Arizona up in the high country with lots of pine trees. It is very different from Phoenix which sits a few hours south. It is also situated on a very heavily traveled transportation corridor connecting Southern California with points east. The corridor is served by Interstate 40 (following the historic Route 66 which goes through Flagstaff) and also a major rail line serving both freight and passenger train service. It seems like there is a train rolling through every half hour.

We were up there the first week of January with our Seattle child and her fiancé spending time in Sedona (southwest of Flagstaff) and Flagstaff. On one of our outings, we were checking out a microbrewery which sits along the railroad tracks and after a great lunch and drinks, the gift shop beckoned the rest of our group. Shopping and me don’t really mix…I’m an in and out type of shopper, but since I always have my camera nearby, I thought this would be a great opportunity to take some shots while the rest of the group browsed. Off to the tracks I went and took the following shots between trains.

Full disclosure at this point…this photo shoot was designed to be a black and white series, as that was how I was seeing the final result in my mind when I was snapping away. For those out there that aren’t as wild about B&W Photography as I am, for you I am starting and ending the series in color.


 

The first shot is of the tracks heading west, with the current train station on the right.

Flagstaff Railroad Tracks 1

Flagstaff Railroad Tracks 1


 

The second capture starts the black and white series with the same capture. I would like to point out a building in the shot that stands out better in the B&W version. Let your eye follow the sidewalk in front of the train station towards the hill in the background. If you go straight up visually to the top of the hill, you will see a small white dome structure. This is the Lowell Observatory, built in 1894 and its claim to fame is the discovery of Pluto.

Flagstaff Railroad Tracks 2

Flagstaff Railroad Tracks 2


 

The third capture is still looking west, but with the composition of the shot centered on just the tracks. I love the depth that is created by taking these shots centered between the tracks (on these tracks, not advisable and believe me I was quick about it as I said earlier there is a lot of train traffic).

Flagstaff Railroad Tracks 3

Flagstaff Railroad Tracks 3


 

The fourth shot is from me turning completely around and now I am facing east.

Flagstaff Railroad Tracks 4

Flagstaff Railroad Tracks 4


 

The fifth shot is in the same location with me stooping down and pulling in a tighter shot.

Flagstaff Railroad Tracks 5

Flagstaff Railroad Tracks 5


 

The sixth and seventh pictures are the original train station and number six creates that vintage, historic look with B&W, but I love number seven because of the beauty of the color of the stone.

Flagstaff Railroad Tracks 6

Flagstaff Railroad Tracks 6

Flagstaff Railroad Tracks 7

Flagstaff Railroad Tracks 7


 

Thoughts? (P.S. – as I said in my B&W post two weeks ago: it’s ok if you prefer the color…no offense taken, I admit I have a penchant for B&W)

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River Walkway in Rockford – Black and White Photography

Anyone that has been following my work, knows that I have a love for black and white photography. It may be because I started shooting with black and white film in college and developed my own prints or it could be because there is a certain dramatic element that can be portrayed in black and white vs. color. The subject matter must be just right and the contrast in shapes and subjects plays an important part. I am attaching five differ captures displaying each in the original color and the final black and white print. I want to note that when I did this shoot, I saw each shot in black and white and that was my original intent.

The setting is a wooden walkway along the Rogue River in Rockford, Michigan. This was a typical “Kirt wandered off from the group to get some shots”, scenario. As I wasn’t into shopping in the village and knew it would take a little bit of time for everyone to agree on a restaurant for lunch, I excused myself and these shots are the result (part of the result…more to come from another area of the river).

I also want to note if I had been at this location during peak fall colors, we wouldn’t be having this discussion on black and white photography with these shots.

What I like about these pictures, is the depth the walkway creates as it winds along the river between the trees. Since it is winter, the branches create a separate element of contrast. I shoot in RAW format, so I can adjust the detail and contrast to give an edgier look, which I did. I am going to frame three of them in my office, so would appreciate any feedback on which three.


 

Rockford 1

Rockford 1

Rockford 2

Rockford 2


 

Rockford 3

Rockford 3

Rockford 4

Rockford 4


Rockford 5

Rockford 5

Rockford 6

Rockford 6


 

Rockford 7

Rockford 7

Rockford 8

Rockford 8


Rockford 9

Rockford 9

Rockford 10

Rockford 10


 

 

Thoughts? (P.S. – it’s ok if you prefer the color…no offense taken, I admit I have a penchant for B&W)

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Black and