The blazing heat continues across Germany. Photographers complain about the harsh light and mute colors, especially during the day. But as the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, grab salt and tequila. Episode 31 of my “Instant Inspirations” talks about high contrast monochrome photographs.
When the blazing sunlight is harsh, especially in summer and around midday, typically also the colors are mute. Then you have a high contrast between brightly lit surfaces and dark, almost black shadows. Taking attractive color photographs in those conditions might be a bit challenging. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take great photographs.
Just take a different approach into your photography. Look for those high contrast and use then to your advantage. And think going black and white. The human eye is very much drawn to contrast. If you combine it with a great composition, the viewer will focus on the shapes, lines and textures and the play of light and shadow, and those components will tell the story of your image.
The important thing is to properly expose the image, to make the whites white and the blacks black. In these situations I usually use spot metering instead of evaluative metering, as the latter tends to try to even the contrast differences and you tend to get gray areas. It is also important to nail the focus, so the lines between the contrast areas stand out sharp. Focussing on the edge of one of those contrast differences works usually great, because it allows for easy locking in of the autofocus. I also typically shoot with a smaller aperture as I want to have a large depth of field in those images.
It helps “to see” in black and white to compose your photograph. If your camera (or smartphone) has a high contrast black and white art program, use to to visualize the image on the LCD screen. Learn to visually hunt for the right high contrast scenes.
In post-processing, play with the sliders to further increase contrast and clarity, after converting the image to black & white (if you haven’t used a high contrast monochrome program while shooting). You can also increase both the blacks and the whites, and work the gradation curves.
So if you look for something to overcome “Photographer’s Block”, want to shoot something that you have never tried or at least not recently, or simply want to make best use of harsh summer sunlight, take your camera (or smartphone), go out and try to capture photographs in high contrast situations, already with a monochrome conversion in mind. You are invited to show your results by posting a link in the comment section. Go out and have fun!
For all my episodes of Instant Inspiration and my Street Photography Quick Tips, check out my free Learning Center .
Have a great Thursday!