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Photography Challenge – Shoot in Monochrome Learn to See Light

New challenge – shoot in monochrome (B/W)

Photography by the root and history of the word means – drawing with light. So learning to see and use light is a key element to being a better photographer.

In the golden days of film, black and white was very popular with many photographers. Shooting in monochrome strips the image down to the real basics – light, tone and form. It forces you to look at your subject differently and really see what the light is doing. See some great black and white photos here.

Many of the world's great photography masters shot black and white, some of out of necessity (color wasn't around yet) and some by choice. It can be an art form and a way to eliminate the distractions of color.

black-white-collection-featured get-closer-photography.jpg

Bracketed HDR without a tripod
Bracketed HDR without a tripod

Learn to see light

Part of your challenge this month is to use this tool to learn to see light. What is quality of light – is it hard or soft – and how does that affect your image? How does the position of the sun in the sky and time of day affect your images? Learn to see natural light and use it to your advantage. Know when to modify it or when to come back later.

Before I get to the details of the challenge though, lets recap the last one.

Wrap up of last month's challenge

Last month I suggested that you select five photographers whose work you enjoy and study them, then share with us in the comments what you learned by doing so.

Some of the things readers got out of that challenge were:

  • I look forward to make more conscious usage of light in my photography. – Terry T.
  • It was a fun and wonderful exercise to look at some beautiful photos and try to figure out what makes them extraordinary. Now, when I take pictures of people I am going to try to make sure that my subject is clearly isolated. I am going to practice every day one concept that makes a strong photograph and practice looking for that and figuring out the best way to capture that so when I am in a real photo shoot I will “see like a photographer” and know what will make the photo better. – Rebecca C.
  • Was totally blown away by Joe's style and problem solving approach. – Guarav S.

The Winner is . . .

Image by Scott Maxwell

Once again, similarly to the Use One Lens challenge, not everyone that said they were joining the challenge completed the second part, which was to come back and tell us about it. So those that did had a really good chance of winning. The randomly selected winner from those who completed it is:

Congratulations to – Folake Abass!

Folake studied street photographers and had this to say:

 “I can tell you that it was a wonderful experience to explore photography in this way and I'm now even more in love with photography than I ever was. The five photographers I studied who are mostly street photographers are Eric Kim, Joel Meyerowitz, Mary Ellen Mark, Steve McCurry and Vivian Maier. As a result of this challenge, I shall be joining Eric Kim on his street photography workshop in Amsterdam this summer.”

I'll be in touch by email on how to send your images for review by me personally.

Details of this months challenge

This is what you need to do to participate in this challenge.

  1. Set your camera on the Monochrome picture style. If you shoot in raw format, you will still have all the color information when you get to the post-processing stage. If you shoot JPG you will be doing all black and white images.
  2. Commit to shooting B/W for at least two weeks. This challenge will run all month but you need to do it for at least two weeks to qualify for the contest and prize. That way if you join in late you can still participate.
  3. Get out and shoot as often as possible. Sitting at home isn't going to make magic happen. You need to get out and go photograph something. The more often the better. This will help you in your quest to see the light.
  4. Come back and share at least two of your black and white images in the comments below. Pick two that represent something you learned, an “Aha!” moment you had during this challenge and tell us about that.
  5. Optional: Share with friends. Tell others you are doing this and get them to join in too. Then comment on your fellow challenge participant's photos below as well.
Photo by Dennis Skley

The Contest

In order to be eligible to win this month's challenge you must complete the assignment, and post a comment below by May 27th (midnight EST) that includes:

  • At least two of your black and white images
  • Tell us what you learned about light

The Prize

Banner: Learn Portrait Photography FundamentalsThis month is all about light. I happen to have a course all about lighting – specifically for portraits – but even if you aren't into portrait photography it can help you learn about light. The winner this month will receive a complimentary copy of my Portrait Fundamentals course (value $149 USD).


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