Black & White photographers take a step back from reality: to see light differently, to ‘see’ in mono tones, eliminating the dominance and psychological associations of colour, instead, concentrating on tonal values and elements of shape, line and texture to convey emotion, power and drama.
Good black & white images are crafted – photos are mostly taken in colour then converted to b&w in a photo editor where selective tonal and local contrast adjustments are made through dodging (lightening) and burning (darkening) techniques, as in the darkroom of old, to create emphasis according to the artists’ vision.
Tones or shades in black & white images relate mainly to luminance or brightness values, with tone, texture and detail taking the place of colour. Photos with good colour contrast often fail in b&w due to lack of luminosity range.
Black & white images need good structure and content, it can’t hide anything and is not a ‘fix’ for poor colour photographs.
Image Caption – Underside of a beached lesser sand shark (guitarfish)