Black and white architecture photography is a world with a lot of creative expression. A place where abstract lines, patterns and shapes emerge and where photos tell a story that captures the imagination.
Architecture is the perfect subject for black and white photography, because of the high contrasts, different textures and patterns that become more apparent in black and white.
Famous black and white architectural photographer Joel Tjinjelaar puts it very well. According to him, when you remove colour the essence of the buildings seem to become more visible. It’s up to the photographer to play with light, contrasts, lines and shapes to emphasize that essence. Without colour to seduce the eye, only emotion remains and captures the heart.
Benefits Of Black And White Architecture Photos
When shooting architecture photos, the focus is more on structure and form than on colour, making this discipline particularly suitable for black and white expression.
The cool thing about modern black and white architecture photography is that, unlike in the past where you had to shoot with a black and white film, the photographer can now capture the images in colour and convert it to black and white during digital post processing. This means that you always have a colour copy if you need it for other purposes.
Black and white architecture photography is a great art expression. Modern buildings are great for abstract photos where the photographer focuses mainly on finding patterns in lines and shapes and captures them from a dynamic perspective. With older buildings, you can play with light and contrast to create an atmosphere of nostalgia or mystery.
Importance Of Pre-Visualization In Black And White Architecture Photography
The secret to taking successful black and white architecture photos is to think in black and white – to really focus on the shapes and lines and how they interact with one another. Your camera, no matter how sophisticated and technologically advanced in design, can’t create a visually pleasing photograph without your eye for composition.
One of the most important architecture photography tips is to visualise what you want the final photograph to look like before pressing the shutter button. In black and white this is even more important, as you have to compensate for the lack of colour, which is not easy as your eyes are seeing the colours. Before taking black and white architecture photos, you need to ask yourself a couple of important questions as part of the pre-visualization process:
• Firstly, what mood are you trying to create? Is the lighting right for the atmosphere you are aiming for?
• When you have established the mood, you need to decide on a composition: what should be included in the photo and what do you want to leave out? Are you going to focus on the building alone or show it in its environment? Will a different angle be more dynamic?
• Lastly you need to decide what techniques you are going to apply to achieve the end result. Is it possible to do it in-camera or will you have to edit it? Do you need to use filters to capture the right tonal range?
The squint test is one of the architecture photography tips not many people know about. Your camera cannot record the same contrast range you can see, but squinting will help you to determine how the camera “sees” a scene. Shadow areas darken a lot when you squint, while bright areas still look relatively light. If you don’t see detail in the shadows, the contrast may be too high and the camera won’t be able to capture the full tonal range.
More Architecture Photography Tips When Shooting In Black And White
In black and white architectural photography, the highly reflective windows of the structure will contrast nicely with darker surroundings. Look at the tonal value of the sky in comparison with that of the building. White buildings will contrast well with clear blue skies.
White balance is still important in black and white architectural photography, even though you are removing the colour. The reason is that you will only convert colours into attractive tones if there is not colour cast.
Try to not only get exterior shots of the building; the interior is just as important when displaying the character of a structure.
Try to avoid any barrel distortion in your black and white architecture photos as the focus will be more on linear details. Zooming in on certain architectural features will help you to avoid barrel distortion. Alternatively, you can always fix it during post-processing.
The details are important, so ensure that your images are sharp and pick out interesting details, such as converging lines and repeating patterns.
The world of Black and White Architecture Photography is a magical one, one with endless possibilities for artistic expression, as it is a way to make people see the world around them differently.