Art Of Black And White Wildlife Photography
Anybody who knows me, knows of my passion for black and white photography. Growing up in the 70's & 80's as a boy, every Sunday I would read newspapers filled with editorials and photographs by the world's top writers and photographers. Content was of the highest standard - be it the written word or photographs. We were spoilt by Magnum photographers and conflict photographers like Don McCullin.
Their work was of the highest order; it had to be or newspapers would not sell.
Very few people buy or read newspapers. Photojournalists are a dying breed. Media houses rely on photographs and videos supplied by Joe Public.
Content quality has suffered, Mediocrity is the order of the day
Everybody who owns a camera has a photography page or website, and has become an experienced photographer overnight. No academic qualifications, no on-the-job training, no experience, little or no knowledge of digital or the wet darkroom.
Don't get me wrong, I love that so many people have taken up photography, it is great for the industry, as it will encourage camera manufacturers to invest more in R & D (research and development).
But there is a negative side effect and...
What we are seeing is the demise of the "ART" of photography. Quality is slowly being eroded and replaced by mediocrity.
Black and white wildlife photography is one of those mediums that has suffered. I cringe sometime when I see the B&W fads that pass by my social media stream. I blame presets and laziness. With many plugins available and photographers with limited knowledge of the digital darkroom. They seem unwilling to put in the learning and just take the easy way out. Press a preset! Voila! An award winning photograph!
Another major factor is unqualified/inexperienced photographic instructors. I particularly see this happening in my own industry, wildlife. In the wildlife photographic industry there are some brilliant photographic instructors. You will know them just by looking at their résumés. They have been published in worldwide publications on a regular basis. They have won awards for their photographs. They sell prints to clients and galleries, etc. In other words, they have put the hard work in and have been recognised and awarded justly. Their Photographs will have a "Wow" factor.
Would You Rather Play A Round Of Golf With ''Rory" Or Your "Club Pro" ?
A Professional Photographer...
- will help you explore your own inner creativity and give you the tools to help it bloom.
- has spent years learning his craft and is willing to share all their knowledge and expertise.
- who will help you to understand the components of what makes a good photograph?
- who understands the digital darkroom and will help you with your editing and workflow.
Be Careful Were You Spend Your Hard Earned Money, Do Your Research On Your Choice of Photographic Instructor
Check Their Resume, Are They A "Rory"?
Back to Black and White Photography...
Often people will say " I am unable to choose my best photograph or to choose a suitable photograph to covert to B&W.
This is due to few factors
- Emotional attachment to your photographs
- Not knowing the components that will make a good Black and White conversion
- Taking advice from inexperienced photographers
I can never understand the mindset of photographers who boast about how little time they spend editing their photographs.
"It took me only a few minutes"
As if this is a badge of honour. If you hear a photographer spouting such a line. It means ..
- Limited understanding of Digital Editing
- Not a clue how to recognise a good photograph
- Lack of respect for their own work
- Pure Laziness
Digital Photography is about the "RAW" file. Capturing the file is only half way. You have to edit and finish the process. This is were the real artistry takes place.
I have been in love with Black and White Photography for decades. I have studied Photography and have been trained in the ways of the "Wet Darkroom". I remember the feelings of pure joy on witnessing my first latent photograph come to life. I have fully embraced the digital darkroom and enjoy spending as much time as I can editing my photographs. Digital editing has become almost a "spiritual'' experience . Hard to explain but the reasons do not matter merely the results.
The phrase your first 10,000 photographs will be your worse, has some merit. These 10,000 photographs are necessary in order to help your photography evolve, by hurrying, cutting corners and not putting the work in, will result in a longer learning process than necessary. It's the same with editing, your editing will never improve if you cut corners and not put in the hard yards.