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Use Filters. Graduated neutral density (AKA ND grad) and polarizing filters are purely as advantageous in monochrome photography as they are in colour. In fact, because they manipulate image contrast they are arguably more advantageous . An ND grad is helpful when you require to retain detail in a bright sky while a polarizing filter could be used to reduce reflections and boost contrast. Alternatively, think of taking two or more shots with varied exposures to create a high dynamic range (HDR) composite. Don’t be afraid to use a ND grad with a standard neural density filter if the sky is brighter than the foreground in a long exposure shot. Coloured filters, which are an essential tool for monochrome film photographers, could also be advantageous for manipulating contrast in digital images. They work by darkening objects of her opposite colour while lightening objects of their own. An orange filter, for example, will darken the blue of the sky while a green single will lighten foliage.

Shoot RAW + JPEG. The most excellent monochrome conversions are run into by editing raw files which have the full colour information, but if you shoot raw and JPEG files simultaneously and set the camera to its monochrome picture Style/Picture Control/Film Simulation mode you get an indication of how the image will look in black and white. As many photographers struggle to visualise a scene in black and white, these monochrome modes are an invaluable tool that will help with composition and scene assessment. many cameras are also capable of producing decent in-camera monochrome images these days and it’s worth experimenting with image parameters (usually contrast, sharpness, filter effects and toning) to find a look that you like. Because compact mode cameras and compact cameras show the scene seen by the sensor with camera settings applied, users of these cameras are able to preview the monochrome image in the electronic viewfinder or on rear screen before taking the shot. DSLR users can also do this if they kick in his camera’s live perceive track , but the usually slower responses mean that most will find it preferable or check the image on the screen post-capture.

Try Long Exposure. Long exposure shots could work really well in monochrome photography, especially where there’s moving water or clouds. During the exposure the highlights of the water, for example, are recorded across a wider area than they would with a short exposure and this should help enhance tonal contrast. The blurring of the movement also adds textural contrast with any solid objects in the frame. If necessary , use a neutral density filter such as Lee Filters’ Big Stopper or Little Stopper to reduce exposure and extend shutter speed (by 10 and 4 stops respectively). characteristically , when exposures extend farther than respecting 1/60 sec a tripod is required to keep the camera still and avoid blurring. It’s also advisable to use a remote release and mirror lock-up to minimise vibration and produce super-sharp images.

Look for Contrast, Shape and Texture. The complimentary and opposing colours that bring a colour image to life are all reduced to black and white or shades of grey in a monochrome image and you have to look for tonal contrast to make a shot stand out. In colour photography, for example, your eye would at once be drawn to a red object on a green background, but in monochrome photography these two areas are likely to have the same brightness, so the image looks flat and featureless straight from the camera. providentially , it’s possible to work adjust the brightness of these two colours separately to introduce some contrast. However, a great starting point is to look for scenes with tonal contrast. There are always exceptions, but as a general rule look for scenes that contain some strong blacks and whites. This can be achieved by the light or by the brightness (or tone) of the objects in the scene as well as the exposure settings that you use. The brightness of the bark of a silver birch tree for example, can inject some contrast (and interest) in to a woodland scene. Setting the exposure for these brighter areas also makes the shadows darker, so the highlights stand out even more. Look for shapes, patterns and textures in a scene and move around to find the most excellent composition.

Take Control. Although coloured filters should still be used to manipulate contrast when shooting digital black and white images, it’s more common to save this work until the processing stage. Until a a couple years ago Photoshop’s Channel Mixer was the favored means of turning colour images monochrome, but now Adobe Camera Raw has more forceful tools (in the HSL/Grayscale tab) that allow you to adjust the brightness of eight individual colours that make up the image. It’s possible to adjust one of these colours to make it anything from white to black with the sliding control. However, it’s important to keep an eye on the whole image when adjusting a particular colour as crafty gradations can become unnatural looking. And adjusting the brightness of a red or rosy shirt with the red sliding control, for moment , will have an impact on the model’s skin, especially the lips. The Levels and Curves controls can also be used to manipulate tonal range and contrast, but the HSL/Grayscale controls allow you to create segregation between objects of the same brightness but with unique colours.

Dodge and Burn. Dodging and burning is a characteristic that comes from the traditional darkroom and is usually used to burn in or darken highlights and hold back (brighten) shadows. Photoshop’s Dodge and Burn tools allow a level of control that film photographers should only ambition of because you should target the highlights, shadows or mid-tones with both. This means that you can use the Burn tool to darken highlights when they are too bright, or the Dodge tool to brighten up them to increase local contrast. It’s a good convention of giving a sense of better sharpness and enhancing texture. Plus, because you should set the opacity of the tools, you can build up her effect gradually so the impact is crafty and there are no hard edges.

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The result achieved was a cinematic style street photography but with a real intimate feel. I was photographing Londoners lost in their thoughts, not smiling or posing, simply walking and being their true self. And importantly I shot them very close. Beautiful people although not in a conventional way. The shallow depth of field helped isolate the subject and made the background less distracting. Avoiding having other people in the shot also was crucial.

“The Great Londoners”, a series of black and white street photography work was exhibited three months for the opening of the Hoxton Hotel Holborn. The exhibition was supported and sponsored by Olympus UK and was featured in the Evening Standard as well as the Kentishtowner, a popular local magazine of the area these we shot in. 

I took a few shots here and there as I normally do but this time they curiously linked to one another through very similar aesthetic yet remaining individual and unique. All were shot from the same low angle, with a very wide aperture (f0.95 to f1.4), in black & white and somehow the focus was only (mainly) on one individual, often highlighting solitude and being lost in thoughts. I had a solid body of work in the making.

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I invite you to browse the current collection of “The Great Londoners” to see the full collection.

In Projects, Street Photography Tags Great Londoners, street photography project, street photography london, london street photography, cinematic style street photography, photographing Londoners, hoxton hotel holborn

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