Black and White White Linen Night

White Linen Night is a street party, coordinated art opening, food and music event...and HOT. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

White Linen Night is a street party, coordinated art opening, food and music event...and HOT. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

I’ve been thinking a lot about black and white photography lately.

It’s what I started with: watching prints come up in a darkroom tray of developer, the images emerging like ghosts at first, then slowly taking on their true forms. Those days are gone but still hold lots of magic and mystery for me, the beginnings of my love affair with the art and craft of photography.

I had fun playing with shutter speeds on this evening. Canon 16-35mm @23mm, 1/20th sec @f14, ISO 200. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

Fans were essential equipment. I had fun playing with shutter speeds on this evening. Canon 16-35mm @23mm, 1/20th sec @f14, ISO 200. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

Then there’s the recent controversy over the supposed new Ansel Adams prints. (Although based upon this recent New York Times story, the lid may be getting blown off this whole tale.)

Looking glamorous was definitely an advantage. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

Looking glamorous was definitely an advantage. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

So when the annual New Orleans White Linen Night rolled around I decided to shoot black and white for the event. My Canon cameras have a ‘monochrome’ Picture Style that I can dial in which actually does create black and white images in the camera. I set the camera up this way ahead of time, rather than just planning to do black and white conversions later in Photoshop.

Lots and lots of legs. Canon 35mm, 1/13th sec @ f8, ISO 200. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

Lots and lots of legs. Canon 35mm, 1/13th sec @ f8, ISO 200. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

Why?

Because so much of ‘seeing’ photographically involves previsualization: You’re out shooting, watching events/objects/people, waiting for the right moment or the right light…whether you’re thinking and seeing in color or black and white is a HUGE aspect in how you’re approaching this whole activity you’re engaged in. It affects everything you’re doing. Color being such a giant factor in our perception, if you’re not intentionally working in black and white on a mental level, you are by default already working in color. I find that ends up meaning few if any good photographs that convert well to black and white.

So how to stand out on White Linen Night? Wear black, of course. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

So how to stand out on White Linen Night? Wear black, of course. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

Besides, it’s fun to shoot black and white! It’s a great way to change how you approach your work, to give yourself a little kick in the pants. If you haven’t shot black and white recently (or at all), I encourage you to try it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

Posted in: Light

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

6 Comments on "Black and White White Linen Night"

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  1. Thanks for sharing this. I am interested in making BW photos I do have a question though it may sound stupid but i will jsut go ahead and ask anyways. Do you set -up your camera to take BW photos or you take colored shots and just change it on photoshop or lightroom.

  2. Hey Maria,
    I like to set it up ahead. That’s what helps me ‘see’ in black and white from the start, rather than trying to make it work in Photoshop later. That said, when I DO make BW’s in Photoshop, I like to do it using the Adjustment Layers approach.

  3. Bayou Bill says:

    How ironic that your commentary on black and white photography comes on the same day as the announcement of the death of Herman Leonard, one of the truly great black and white photographers – and printers – of our time: http://www.nola.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2010/08/herman_leonard_photgrapher_of.html

  4. Good point, Bill. Herman was one of the great ones, real old school!

  5. Morgan says:

    Such a great article which watching prints come up in a darkroom tray of developer, the images emerging like ghosts at first, then slowly taking on their true forms. Those days are gone but still hold lots of magic and mystery for me, the beginnings of my love affair with the art and craft of photography.Thanks for sharing this article.

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