Week #9: Black and White

To be shot and submitted between Sunday, Feb 22 and Sunday, Mar 1 (noon, Eastern)

It took several decades after the advent of photography to introduce color into the frame. But in that time, 50 shades of gray black and white established itself into popular psyche as the archetype of “pure” photography.

In many ways, this makes sense. Photography is literally “writing with light.” Black and white photographs contain much less “information” than color photographs. Simply put, where light is exposed longer, the picture is brighter; where it is exposed less, it’s darker. Every “pixel” is merely a representation of how much “light” is being “written”.

What’s so powerful about black and white photographs is that the lack of color forces the artist and viewer to more carefully consider theform of the photo’s content, beyond just its subject. Lines, shapes, patterns, texture, light all take on extra significance.

As you take your black and white shots, pay special attention to search for scenes that – absent meaning and context – are still interesting to look at.

Tips and Tuts for this week:


  • A wonderful overview of things to consider when shooting black and white, including light, form, subject and texture
  • Some quick tips for beginners shooting black and white.
  • And some tips for more advanced photographers(and then some more).

Looking for more inspiration? There’s lots of eye candy on the web, and you should definitely check out our black and white albums from20142013 and 2012

Extra Credit: “Shoot with Film”

We’ve been talking about the roots of photography in this week’s challenge, so it makes sense for the extra credit to be old-school as well! Your Extra Credit challenge this week, should you choose to accept it, is to shoot with film. Literally. You have 7 days to get a camera with film, get your shot, process (yes, you can use a lab!) and scan it.

For those up for the challenge, this is a great opportunity to reacquaint yourself with classical photography methodologies. Remember, with film – as opposed to digital –  each shot counts! Put in extra time framing, composing and exposing your shot in the camera, rather than relying on ‘fixes’ in post-production.

Again, it is not necessary to work in this Extra Credit piece. It’s extra credit!