“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it. “
Why are you passionate about this topic?
I love black and white photography, it is a big part of how I take photos and I can’t imagine photography without it.
Although, I didn’t actually pick up a camera until my late 20’s – I have been been an admirer of the black and white image every since I can remember. From the early days pouring through my mothers childhood albums, to my teenage years of plastering my walls in posters of work from Robert Doisneau and Henri Cartier- Bresson, then in my 20’s collecting black and white postcards from foreign countries in my years of wandering the world.
For me, I feel that black and white helps to emphasize emotion in an image, and that without the distraction of color, I find a stronger emotional connection to your subject.
Black and white enables me to see light differently, rather than focusing on colors – I find that I focus more on the direction and quality of light… I just find the interaction between light and shadow more interesting to focus on than color relationships.
I truly believe there is certainly a magic in black and white imagery that I find impossible to explain… the magic is in the shadow and the highlight, and in the mystique that, at times, can tread a fine line between reality and fiction.
When did you first learn this technique?
My first lesson in black and white photography was back when I first picked up an SLR camera in my late 20’s… while I was living in England, I enrolled in a weekend dark room course, where I spent a glorious two cold wintery days locked in a tiny room with four others learning how to process and print black and white film.
I fell totally under the spell of the wonder of creating my own prints from scratch. I remember, so well, the endless winter weekend that I spent in the darkroom immersed in the magic of it all… the absolute best way to spend a cold and bleak northern English winter.
I stopped photographing when returning home, but started to pick up a camera a few years ago and have taken the long journey of learning how to process an image digitally and the endless search for finding a process that I can love as much as I did my film prints from years ago.
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique?
Learn to embrace the shadows as much as the light… and experiment … don’t just wait for the golden hour… play around with harsh light, with shadows and contrast… with no color to confuse an image, light and shadow can become the focus and real magic can come from it.
Shoot, shoot and shoot more and more… practice on everything, at all times of the day. Be inspired by your everyday and push yourself to create pictures even where you think there aren’t any.
Watch black and white movies… see how the film makers use light in their story telling.
Learn to recognize compositional components of an image… without color, texture, leading lines and other compositional components have more emphasis on where a viewer’s eyes travel and focus in an image.
Study and observe light… everywhere, all the time, how it falls, how it shapes, what moods it depicts.
This is all information I have been given by others who have helped me, and from my own experience… all things that I to need to do more of, as well.
About the Photographer:
My name is Niki Boon and I live in the South Island of New Zealand, with my husband and my four children who unschool on our 10 acre property. We live a simple life surrounded by wild and expansive bush, hills and coastline that inspire me daily. I photograph to document my children’s relatively free range childhood in our wee corner of the world.