In this shot of a storm moving in over the Bugaboo mountain range, I used Google Nik Silver Efex Pro and the Structure setting to add tonal definition to the clouds to create atmosphere.
Dusk is the period just after the sun has set but there is still some color left in the sky especially on the horizon where the sun has just set. Often, we get an attractive orange afterglow and some stunning colors in the clouds at this time. The tones tend to be little more vivid at dusk than at dawn for example.
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I spotted these two local ladies sitting by a bridge in Venice and thought they’d make a good subject for some street-level photography.
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Sunny days with scattered cloud and strong light are great for creating high contrast black and white images. The photo above was taken in Paris on one such day. The white clouds really stand out against the sky and help create a sense of drama. I like to really darken what was the blue of the sky in post-production to create a really ‘contrasty’ image. Using an infrared filter can really enhance this high contrast feel.
As my wife can confirm, I am not a morning person but it really is worth the effort to drag oneself from the coziness of a warm bed to visit a famous location before the crowds arrive.
I’ve become increasingly interested in this more minimalist style photography recently. Most of my photos feature plenty of detail and bold colors. It’s nice to try something different every so often and move out of your ‘comfort zone’.
5 Reasons Why Bad Weather Days are the Best Times for Photography
I find that wooded areas make excellent subjects on a sunny day. In the above photo, the high sun streams its light through the trees of the forest making for an attractive photo.
We stay in Paris for the next example. The afterglow of the setting sun is clear in the above photo. The sun had just set behind the famous glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum creating a pleasing silhouette. By now, the city lights were beginning to switch on and dusk was beginning to slowly transform into blue hour.
The success of your black-and-white shots relies on several different factors, but the main thing to look out for is a main subject that will appear in a significantly different shade of grey to the background. Then look out for subtleties of tone and texture that will add depth to your images.
As a Dubliner, I’m well used to rain. We often have a tendency to put the camera away when it rains. Rain, however, can present some great opportunities for interesting photographs. My sister Janet, is particularly adept at capturing cities in the rain. Take a look at the next two photos taken by her below.
I love photographing cities early in the morning before the place comes to life. It’s very peaceful and you can capture a very different atmosphere and mood at this time.
The long days of mid-summer provide the longest golden ‘hours’ whereas, in the depths of winter, the golden hour light may only last a few minutes. My own frequently cloudy country of Ireland often gets no golden hour at all! It’s useful to keep a close eye on weather reports to increase your chances of being in location when the light is likely to enhance your photos.
The evening blue hour is, without doubt, the best time for capturing cityscapes. Although the morning blue hour is also a fantastic time for urban photography. Often the lights that illuminate the city’s landmarks have been switched off by then.
So I’ve been telling how the black night sky is not particularly attractive for capturing urban landscapes. This does not mean you should put your camera away as the night gets darker. There are still plenty of photography opportunities at this time.
There’s no absolute right or wrong when it comes to choosing a subject for black and white photography, but you’ll come across subjects and scenes that rely on colour for their impact, and also lighting conditions that don’t work well in monochrome.
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The Ha’penny Bridge is one of the most recognizable landmarks in my home city of Dublin. I love photographing the city during the morning blue hour. Often, it feels like I have the whole place to myself at this time. In these photos, the deep shade of blue in the sky is very apparent. See how more attractive this is than a pure black sky.
The photo above was taken late on a winter morning well after the golden hour. Normally, the best light is long gone by then. As it was winter, however, the sun was still very low in the sky and caused the trees to cast long shadows across the scene.
Although I captured some reasonably decent shots during the daytime, it’s in the evening time that things really start to get interesting. This is when the most interesting light and tones begin to appear in the scene.
Along with our best black and white photography tips, we’ll reveal how to get creative with high-contrast graphic compositions and create moody landscapes, and show you how dramatic high- and low-key effects can be used to transform your still life photography and portrait photography.
This is by far my favorite time for urban landscapes. Blue hour often only lasts a few minutes so as I said earlier, it’s vital to be set up and ready to shoot in advance. Make sure to check the sunset times for your location in advance
Focusing on street level rather than grand landscapes means that the sky is less dominant in the scene too. This photo of Grafton Street in Dublin at Christmas time is a good example of this. Not including much sky avoids the issue exposure difficulties caused by too much contrast between the sky and the scene below.
This photo was taken in the same location as the last one. The warm early morning light is really evident on the bridge. I was very lucky that morning as one of the local swans would obligingly drift into frame now and then. I named him Henry. He was very tasty.
Use a neutral density filter to slow your shutter so that it captures the motion created by the breeze. Use a tripod for your wind shots to make sure that whatever is not moving in your image stays nice and sharp. The contrast of solid and fluid is a powerful creative technique.
Rainy evenings are great for capturing the reflections of the city lights in the wet streets too. Janet is always telling me to get out with my camera when it rains in the evening. I can see why.
Depending on where you live, misty conditions like this don’t come along all that often so it’s always exciting when it happens. It gives you the chance to photograph a location in a unique way. Make sure to keep a close eye on the weather forecast to increase your chances of capturing a location in misty conditions.
Notre Dame Cathedral seems to glow during the evening golden hour in this photo. The term ‘golden hour’ is a bit misleading. The evening I took this photo, the golden hour light only lasted about 30 minutes.
Windy days provide you with all you need to make excellent motion studies for long exposures – tall grasses flowing like waves, tress swaying wildly, leaves trembling and dancing full of motion. Waves on lakes become whitecaps, perfect for those milky long exposure waterscapes.
There is more ambient light left over in the sky in the second shot making the scene easier to expose for and allowing me to capture more detail in the buildings. In the second image, we can clearly see the variety of textures and colors in the building. In the late night image, the building appears a uniform shade of yellow from the artificial light illuminating the facade.
I find that black and white works well on misty days. The mist creates a totally different feel and atmosphere from the previous shots. In the shot above I’ve added a slight sepia tone to warm the shot up and give a slight vintage feel to the final photograph.
Dark and unpredictable clouds Powerful winds Rain and drizzle Snow Fog #1 CLOUD PHOTOGRAPHY FOR DRAMATIC IMAGES
Rain photography gives you hundreds of subjects for creative artistic photos using reflections and ripples in puddles, lakes and other water bodies. A wet rainy day gives you macro photography opportunities, by providing you with drops, ripples, and rivulets, perfect in the flat, even light of a rainy day. Use rain streaks on windows as art effects to make high impact abstract images.
Let’s look these five reasons to appreciate bad weather, and what they can offer you for photographs that get that second look.
If the scene you’re shooting relies on color for mood or impact, chances are you’ll be better off keeping the image in color, as in our mushroom image above. Sunrise or sunset shots are another good example; you should always ask yourself whether the image loses some impact without the subtle hues.
Let’s finish by taking a look at a selection of photos taken at the same location at different times of the day. This will allow us to see how different light and conditions can affect the look and feel of the final photograph.
If you have any questions or comments please leave them below, and do share your bad weather stories and images as well.
Even though still photographs capture a single moment, you can achieve great impact when you capture the residue of motion in a single frame. High impact daytime long exposure photographs need movement to be successful, and when the wind is blowing, things are moving. Capture this in a single frame and you have an instant “wow” shot.
I took this photo from behind Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris just after sunrise. Notice how the early morning sun bathes the whole scene in a wonderful golden light. As the day goes on and the sun climbs higher, the light loses this warm soft quality and becomes harsher and cooler.
This is not to say that there are no opportunities to take excellent photographs during the day.
The Customs House is another well-known building in Dublin. Many people are surprised when I tell them this photo was actually taken in the morning! You can see the sky beginning to brighten in the right of the frame as the sun (although still below the horizon) begins to light the sky.
I also think that the deep blue sky of blue hour makes for a far more attractive backdrop than the solid black sky of late night.
Daytime in winter can be an excellent time for photographing cities too. The sun is low in the sky all day creating some interesting side lighting. Also, the trees are often bare meaning there is little blocking your view of the buildings.
I rarely photograph wildlife but I was lucky to be there when this herd of deer crossed the Phoenix Park in Dublin. One deer suddenly stopped and looked back, possibly remembering he’d forgotten to turn off the immersion that morning.
In this case, the form, shapes, angles, and colors are the most important elements of the shot. A clear blue sky does not distract from the main subject of the photo. The strong daytime light accentuates sharp detail, colors and textures in the architecture being photographed.
The timeless quality of black and white photography makes it a must-try subject for any photographer to try.
Dawn is a great time for nature landscapes. The period just before sunrise is one of my favorite times to take photos. Often at this time, the light has a slightly more subtle almost pastel feel than the time after sunset for example. As the day gradually moves from blue hour to dawn, the lighting conditions begin to change dramatically.
Most novice photographers know about the virtues of shooting at golden hour and with good reason too. The light at this time can help produce stunning results. The golden hour refers to the period just after the sun rises or just before it sets.
So, unless you’re trying to create a minimalist image it’s worth taking the time to capture maximum detail in the best lighting conditions possible.
I knew this light wouldn’t last long so I had to run up two flights of stairs with tripod legs flailing in all directions, throwing several small children out of my way as I did so. Thankfully, I just about made it in time to capture the last of the sunburst as it bathed the city below in its golden light.
Long exposures are a good option for creative shots during the daytime. They work particularly well in black and white too.
Black and white images need strong compositions to really work. Keep an eye out for strong lines or features in your scene that can be used as leading lines, or positioned diagonally across the frame to create dynamic images.
In this photograph taken along the Groenerei Canal in Bruges, the stone bridge in the foreground is well defined with plenty of contrast whereas the buildings in the background seem faded by the mist in the air.
This was taken pretty much in the middle of the day. It’s a decent enough shot but the daytime light is quite harsh and not particularly interesting. It could work in brochure maybe but I’m not sure I’d hang it on the wall.
In this tutorial, I’m going to go through the different times of the day and explain what type of light we might typically expect at that time and what kind of photography produces attractive results at these times. I’ll also take a look at the types of photos that work best in various weather conditions.
Autumn/Fall is a particularly good time for golden hour landscape photography. The golden light really makes the warm colors of the leaves glow. This is a very pretty boathouse on the Rye Water in Maynooth, County Kildare.
Misty conditions tend to make elements in the scene that are closer to the camera more ‘punchy’ and defined against the more ‘faded’ background. This layering of stronger tones over faded tones can help create a sense of depth in the scene.
Take a look at some photographs taken during the morning blue hour.
Heavy falling snow adds an instant texture to your images. Colors appear softer, and less vibrant as they compete with the white of the flakes. I find it adds an instant painterly effect to most images – especially those with lots of natural colors.
It’s certainly true that with some skilful conversion and adjustment in Photoshop post-shoot you can add drama , but the sturdier the building blocks the better your finished image will be.
While it’s now simpler than ever to convert your images to black and white, especially now with the host of smartphone apps like Instagram that offer an array of filters, for truly impressive results it pays to think about how and what you shoot, and then know how to use your photo editing software’s powerful tools to get the most from your shots.
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Only a few minutes later the scene has changed dramatically. The light has dipped and the sky had turned a beautiful shade of purple. By now the lights illuminating the buildings have come on.
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Master your autofocus: which AF points to use and when to use them
The photo above is a prime example of being in the right place at the right time. I was having a drink at the café at the top of the Montparnasse Tower in Paris when I noticed a beautiful golden hour sunburst over the city outside.
If you’ve endured the rain and the wet, chances are you’ll be rewarded handsomely for your efforts and patience. You’ll have captured some rare and uncommon moments that most people never attempt. Because luck favors the prepared mind, you may also get really lucky. You’re outdoors, you have all your gear, and you are shooting. In amongst all those dramatic bad weather photographs you capture, you may find something truly wondrous in the very next frame.
It’s true that overcast skies are not particularly interesting. You can use these days to focus on details rather than vast sweeping landscapes. Once again, the even lighting is an advantage. This very simple shot of some water droplets on a leaf was taken in a friend’s garden in France on a cloudy day.
The low light of blue hours allows for longer shutter speeds. I used this to my advantage in the above photo to capture the motion blur of the gondolas as the bobbed up and down in the water.
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About the author: Barry O Carroll is a Dublin, Ireland-based photographer specializing in landscape photography with a particular emphasis on urban landscapes, street scenes and architecture photography. You can find more of his work on his website or by following him on Facebook and Twitter. This article was also published here.
As during the morning blue hour, there is still enough ambient light to create a nice balance between the sky above and the buildings below. As mentioned earlier, the deep blue sky at this time is arguably more attractive than the pure black sky of later in the night.
In our expert guide, we’ll show you how to see in mono, choose your subjects, set up your camera and then explore how simple but effective adjustments in Photoshop or Lightroom can make your images really stand out.
Here’s a run-down of the most common elements that you should look for when identifying a suitable subject for the black-and-white treatment. Remember that these elements can be used individually, or even combined to produce marvellous mono images with clout.
The photo above was taken among the fishing boats by the Kasbah in Hammamet, Tunisia. Sunny Tunisia has some wonderful golden hour light almost every single day.
The second photo was taken on a narrow street in Tavira, Portugal looking towards the Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo. It was taken in January when the night falls quickly.
Clouds can be brooding, moody and sinister – a great backdrop for photographing old buildings, new skyscrapers, and trees. While you’re out in the storm, also think about shooting just the clouds by themselves, to create a “cloud bank” of images to use as drop-ins for compositing with other images. Clear blue skies are pretty boring in most photos. With your catalog of cloud shots you’ll never have a bland sky photo again.
Morning and evenings tend to be the best times for mist particularly in areas of grassland. On this particular morning, I was lucky to find my shooting location covered in a low lying mist over the frosty grass. I sometimes refer to dawn as ‘pink hour’ for obvious reasons.
Just like the period just after sunrise, the time just before sunset is an excellent time for outdoor photography. As is the case during the morning golden hour, the sunlight has a warm, golden quality during its evening counterpart.
Long exposures can work well on days with some scattered cloud. In this shot, I used a 10 stop ND filter to achieve a long shutter speed of 35 seconds. This allowed me to capture some motion blur in the clouds. The water looks hazy and calm due to the long exposure time.
When is the best time of the day to take photographs outdoors? What are the ideal weather conditions for outdoor photography? Should I take photos during golden hour and blue hour? What can I photograph on a dull cloudy day for example? What can I photograph when it’s raining? How does the guy who drives the snowplow get to work in the morning? This tutorial aims to answer most of these questions and more.Photography is all about light. To be more precise, photography is all about the quality of the light. This can be a particular challenge for outdoor/landscape photographers. A photographer photographing a model in a studio has complete control over the lighting conditions. Studio lights can be easily adjusted depending on the desired result.
Fog – moody and high impact scenic shots, great for storytelling, and it can be used as a “backdrop” to hide distracting backgrounds to isolate your subject. I especially like fog photography because it adds an instant pastel effect to your images, which can make for stunning fine art photography.
Normally the area I took this photo from is crowded with hoards of tourists. At 6 am however, I had the place to myself with the exception of a very drunk Parisian who would randomly wander into the frame every so often.
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There is nothing more atmospheric than a misty morning. Having the opportunity to photograph a scene bathed in mist can often be a simple matter of luck. Keeping a close eye on weather forecast can increase your chances though.
Depending on the season, the morning blue hour can be anything from about half an hour to several hours before sunrise. At this time the sky is no longer the pure black of nighttime but an attractive deep shade of blue.
I took this photo of the Dublin Docklands just after the sun had set. The sun, though below the horizon by now had painted the clouds above in series of dramatic orange tones. They almost seem to be on fire! The Samuel Beckett Bridge is designed to look like a harp on its side.
Overcast days are perfect for portrait photography. My talented sister, Janet Meehan is the portrait expert in our family and this is one of her photos above from a wedding she shot. An overcast sky is like a giant studio light-box and guarantees even light on the subjects. This is always more flattering than strong sunlight which casts shadows across the face and amplifies every wrinkle and blemish.
This photo of the Ha’penny Bridge was taken about 20 minutes later than the previous blue hour example. It was taken from the opposite side of the bridge this time. Although the sun is still just below the horizon in this shot, its light has illuminated the clouds above in an attractive pink hue. What a difference 20 minutes makes!
The following morning I woke up to a city shrouded in a dense mist (and a banging headache). This meant no morning golden hour light but the misty conditions presented an opportunity for some more moody style minimalist photographs. In the photo above, the mist was so thick that the famous belfry in the center of the frame is barely visible.
Sunny days with a clear blue sky are rarely conducive to capturing the more artistic style photos. The light is harsh and the cloudless sky can seem uninteresting and devoid of drama. Such days, however, can be very suitable for architecture photography.
Low hanging clouds can add a really mysterious quality to your images. Think black and white photography when considering ways to take advantage of clouds. You can use post-processing techniques to accentuate the various layers of the cloud formations to add even more drama to your images.
This photo was taken near my university town of Maynooth in County Kildare. As the sunrise approaches, the sky often contains some really beautiful colors. Above, you can see the orange glow of the soon to rise sun merge with the soft pink tones of the dawn sky. The ever brightening sky also allowed me to capture a silhouette of the tree on the river bank.
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Sunny days with some cloud are great for long exposure photography. The photo above was taken using a 10 stop ND filter. This allowed me to set a very long shutter speed of 24 seconds. During the exposure, the clouds moved across the sky creating the motion blur effect in the above photo.
Unfortunately, the sky was cloudy during the evening golden hour so I headed to a nearby bar and hoped that the clouds would clear in time for dusk and blue hour. As luck would have it, they did. Luck often plays a major role in capturing that special shot.
I tried to visit the basilica later in the day with my wife and 1-year-old son later on that day. It turns out toddlers don’t really like dark medieval churches all that much. He didn’t really appreciate the Byzantine art and Venetian architecture as much as I’d hoped. I don’t think such screams had been heard in Venice since Napoleon attacked the area over 200 years ago. He much preferred chasing pigeons on St. Mark’s Square (my son, not Napoleon).
Like at dawn, dusk is the perfect time to capture silhouettes. This photo of one of the fountains on Place de la Concorde was taken against the coral tones of the post-sunset sky.
The featureless overcast sky is perfect for photographers who prefer a more minimalist feel to their images. The lack of detail in the sky above focuses the viewer on the street lamp and the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and its church in the distance.
As I was leaving, my drunk friend was chatting up one of the golden statues. I hope he was successful.
The things that keep most people indoors on bad weather days are the very things that have creative photographers heading for the great outdoors. Grab a rain jacket, brave the elements AND take your camera – these can be the best times for photography to capture something memorable.
Tags: advice, barryocarroll, lighting, timeofday, Tips, tutorial, weathering
Black and white photos actually include a whole range of greys, which add subtlety to your images. Normally, you look for subjects that will translate into a range of tones from black to white, but you can also get great results where the subject is mostly light (high-key) or dark (low-key).
St Mark’s Square is usually packed with tourists and trinket sellers all day long. At 6 am however, during the morning blue hour, I had the place to myself. The almost eerie emptiness allowed me to capture something a little different. The only other people on the piazza were another photographer and a man gently sweeping the ground with an old-fashioned broom.
Capturing detail at street level is another great option on a cloudy day. As in the photo from Bruges before this one, the even light makes setting the exposure easy. You set it once and you don’t really have to worry about it again unless the light changes dramatically. This leaves you free to concentrate on finding interesting street scenes to capture.
Blue hour is by far the best time to capture night photos, especially in cities. There is is just enough ambient light to balance the light of the city with the darkness of the sky.
I’m sure you’ve noticed how the light of the early morning sunrise and its evening sunset counterpart often bathe buildings or nature in a beautiful golden glow.
Cutting out the sky altogether is also an option at night. Capturing scenes at street level such as this orchestra outside Ristorante Quadri on St Marks Square in Venice can work well at this time of night.
A little cloud is always welcome during golden hour as the low sun illuminates the undersides of the clouds in a variety of warm tones.
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Look beyond colors, and try to visualise how shapes, textures and tones will be recorded
The few minutes just before the sun disappears below the horizon is a fantastic time to capture something special. Often, there will be a sunburst on the horizon at this time. It usually only lasts a few seconds though so it’s important to have your shot set up in advance and be ready to go at the ‘decisive moment’.
Remember those days when you looked out your window and wished that the weather was better so you could get out and take some fantastic photographs? Do rainy, windy, stormy days stifle your photographic ambitions? I’ll give you five reasons why bad weather is not all doom and gloom for photographers.
This sepia photo from Arnhem in the Netherlands is full of atmosphere. I love the woman walking the dog in the foreground. The slow shutter speed causing motion blur creates a pleasing sense of movement.
Recognising potential shots when out in the field can take practice, so why not try converting some of your existing images to black and white to get a better feel for what will work.
Black and white photography is another great option for overcast days. The even light makes setting the exposure very easy. I tend to not include much sky on these days as the flat white sky without much detail doesn’t add much interest to the scene. I waited about 45 minutes to capture this shot of a cyclist crossing a bridge in Bruges on a misty morning. Sometimes you have to be patient to get the shot you want!
The silhouette of the Eiffel Tower in the distance seems closer than in reality. This is due to the effect of zooming into the scene which tends to compress the perspective making distant subjects seem closer to the foreground than in reality.
This shot was taken around Christmas time in Dublin. What I like about it is the pleasing contrast between the red lights on the building and the deep blue tones of the sky above.
Gently falling snowflakes in photography can add an additional element of emotion to add more impact to your images – who hasn’t felt a little shudder in the blustery cold? It can be used to create a sense of realism in a photo, especially in street photography.
When you use photo-editing software to remove the color from an image you instantly lose one element that the viewer relies on to interpret the scene. So other elements become even more important for successful black and white images.
Two coffees at this restaurant will set you back about €30. I dread to think what a roast swan would cost.
The photos below were all taken at Rozenhoedkaai in Bruges. This is one of the best-known views of this gorgeous medieval city which is crisscrossed by a series of canals lined by pretty Flemish buildings.
As already mentioned, rainy evenings are great for capturing reflections. On my first evening in Venice, St Mark’s Square was still covered in large puddles from the previous day’s rain and Aqua Alto (the frequent floods in Venice).
When the sky is black, there is often too much contrast between the black of the sky leading to exposure issues. The deep navy tones of the blue hour sky also tend to provide a more attractive background to the foreground scene.
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By now the remaining clouds were painted in a pink/orange tone by the recently set sun. As you can see, this made for a more attractive and interesting photo than the daytime version. This light only lasted a few minutes so it’s important to be patient and ready to shoot when the conditions are right. Being sober helps too.
Most of my Dublin night time photos were actually taken in the morning! We most often associate blue hour with the evening but we often forget that there is a morning blue hour too!
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When it comes to black-and-white imagery, being able to ‘see’ how your final shot will look is a key skill. It’s important to understand how the color image you see through your camera’s viewfinder or on the rear screen will translate into a striking monochrome image. To get the best results, you have to look beyond the colours, and instead try to visualise how a shot’s shapes, textures and tones will be recorded.
A Guide to Different Types of Light and Weather Conditions for Photography
About 15 minutes later and blue hour has descended on the city of Bruges. There is still a purple afterglow from the sunset but most of the sky has turned a deep shade of blue.
Here are some examples of what to avoid when looking for suitable subjects for black and white photography.
It’s easy to think that because you don’t need bright colors you can shoot black and white photography in any light or in any weather.
Well done if you’ve made it this far! I hope you found this tutorial useful and that it has helped give you some ideas for what to shoot at various times and in various conditions. Next time you’re looking at a gallery of photos, try to guess at what period of the day they were taken.
This photo was taken on the Ponte Romana in Tavira, Portugal on a chilly January evening. I had to work quickly though as the winter blue hour only lasted about 10 minutes on this occasion. At this time of year, the sun sets early and quickly.
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The flat light of a cloudy day is ideal for wildlife photography. Once again, the light on such days lights the scene very evenly, making it possible to capture plenty of detail. As with street photography, you can concentrate your efforts on your subject matter rather than fiddling with exposure settings.
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After a few glasses of a local beer/rocket fuel called Kwak, I stumbled out of the bar into a totally transformed scene. My sense of balance had been totally transformed too. Thank goodness for tripods.
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The black sky of night tends to be less of an issue when working in black and white. The first photo above was taken on a narrow street in Prague looking toward the tower of the town hall. Here, the contrast of the illuminated buildings contrasts well with the dark night sky. Exposure can still be tricky at this time. I took 3 bracketed exposures to make this photo.
One of the fundamental aspects of black and white photography is that your whole composition relies on contrast (for on composing images, see our 10 rules of photo composition – and why they work). For this reason, look out for subjects that feature simple, strong lines and shapes. It’s often the shadows that define shape and form, so pay attention to areas of darkness, as well as light.
This a well-captured location in Venice is often photographed in the morning with the sun rising in the background with beautiful results. My trip here at morning time didn’t really work out due to a cloudy sky so I returned to try something different at blue hour.
Blue hour and rain go particularly well together when it comes to city photography. This photo Janet took in London is a great example of this. To me, it really captures the essence of London, a city famous for its rain. The bright red of the iconic London bus contrasting with the darker tones of the street at night really make the shot in my opinion.
This is not the case for us outdoor and landscape photographers. We regularly find ourselves at the mercy of the weather conditions on any given day. Coming from Ireland, where the weather can change by the minute, I understand this challenge only too well. I once came home from a 30 minute shoot both soaking wet and sun-burnt!
I take the vast majority of my photographs in the morning and evening when the light is at it’s most interesting. The midday light from the high sun tends to be harsher and cooler than the softer side lighting of the morning and evening. Generally speaking, it tends not to be the best time for outdoor photography.
This photo is a long exposure using a 10 stop ND filter. This allowed me to set a very long shutter speed of 160 seconds which created the motion blur effect of the clouds as they moved across the sky.
The black and white version of the same photo is a little more interesting I think. The deeply contrasting tones created by the harsh daytime sunlight create some drama, especially in the sky. As mentioned earlier, sunny days with scattered clouds can be the perfect opportunity for black and white photography.
When it’s wet outside, colors become deeper, richer and more saturated. This provides you with a way to look at the great outdoors in a “different light.” Observe how flat and lifeless colors appear on an overcast day. But add some rain and the colors really pop!
Winter time can be a fantastic time of year to shoot interesting photos during the daytime. In winter time, the sun stays low in the sky all day long. This means it casts long shadows and creates interesting side and backlighting.
This scene will look completely different later with the harsher light of the midday sun….. or under heavy rain as it’s Ireland! It really is worth it to get up early to capture a scene in such interesting and attractive light.
Subjects that rely on contrasting colors – such as a purple crocus against a green lawn – generally don’t work well in black and white. This is because the two colors will end up looking similar in tone when converted.
Notice the relative lack of detail in the buildings in the first photo compared to the second one. There are a lot of overexposed areas too, especially in the bright windows. This is due to the high contrast between the dark sky and brightly illuminated buildings. The camera can struggle to capture the full range of tones in this case.
It’s tempting to think that white balance doesn’t matter if you’re going to remove the color, but because the success of any conversion relies on successfully translating colors into attractive tones, it’s important to capture an image without any colour casts.
Fine detail, or strong textures such as weather-beaten stone, foliage or clouds, can help to give your black-and-white shots depth and interest. Strong side lighting is perfect for bringing out the texture in any subject. You can use strong natural light, or get creative with flash to create side-lighting on the subject.
Take a look at these two photos below. They were both taken from roughly the same location in Burg Square in Bruges. The first one was taken late at night when the sky was black. The second was taken earlier in the evening during blue hour.
This golden warm tone is due to the fact that the sun is lower in the sky in the morning and evening. This means the light passes through more atmosphere which scatters the bluer cooler light in the spectrum. This leaves us with the warmer red, orange, and yellow tones.
Outdoor photographers often write off cloudy overcast days. This is understandable in many ways. On a cloudy day, the light tends to very flat and not particularly interesting or dramatic. There are however certain types of photography that are well suited to overcast conditions.
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In this shot, I was able to capture the reflection of the exquisite facade of St. Mark’s Basilica in one of the huge puddles that covered the piazza at blue hour. I did ruin my shoes though.
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When the light and conditions co-operate however, the results can be spectacular. It is the quality of light that can turn a photograph from ‘decent’ to ‘special’. Luck often plays a role in this of course. That said, doing some research in advance and making the effort to be in a location at the right time will dramatically increase your chances of capturing something a bit more special.