BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
Lyli  Armani

artistic black and white photographs

I would like to start taking artistic black and white photographs. Can you give me some tips on what film, and what different apetures and exposures to use in what sort of situations???


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3/12/2001 7:44:44 AM

Jeff S. Kennedy   First of all you have to change your mindset. You don't "take" artistic pictures. You "make" artistic images. I know they are just words but they tell me a lot about your approach. Secondly, art comes from within you. What do you want to make artistic images of? What do you find beautiful? What do you want your art to say? Answer those questions then you can make decisions regarding film and exposure.

Are your subjects going to be people, nature, objects, abstracts....? There's more to art than equipment. Much more.

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3/12/2001 2:54:40 PM

Billy B. Wells   Jeff, I like your answer, and how true it is - would you please answer his question as I really don't have the slightest idea.

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3/13/2001 2:18:39 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
You asked some of the most fundamental questions about the "science" of photography, but without defining first the specific image you want to make. Your question is very open-ended. A complete answer to it would easily fill several textbooks that cover first the art of composition, and then show how the techniques for achieving specific effects.

In making any photographic image, you need to first develop a mental "vision" of the image you desire. This is the "art" and should answer who the image is for (the viewer[s]) and its purpose.

When the desired image is envisioned, it will lead you to the film type, lens focal length, aperture, shutter speed, etc., required to achieve what you have envisioned for the image. The "science" serves only to facilitate the "art." This may seem arduous, but with experience the methods will start to become automatic for many photographs.

A good library may be the best place to start . . . look for books that discuss the art of composition and then explain the techniques involved. Since you also ask specifically about B/W, you will want to find ones that also discuss how to use things such as filters and other devices to achieve specific effects in B/W images.

-- John
Very glad to see this concept of "making" photographs is expressed and shared. This concept completely changed my thinking about my photography.

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3/13/2001 11:51:37 PM

Jeff S. Kennedy   I would like to add that fine art b&w photography involves perhaps more darkroom knowledge than other types of photography so that's also something to consider. Does it mean you have to do all of your own developing and printing? No. I don't do any of my own (although I am in the process of putting together a darkroom). But you must find a competent custom b&w lab and you must have a basic understanding of how it all works so you can communicate with your printer.

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3/14/2001 1:51:08 AM

Dana R.    Lyli,
Bob Dylan wrote " I will know my song well before I start singing "
A good translation for photography would be,
Learn your equipment.
Learn your subject.
and most of all , learn how to SEE.

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3/16/2001 12:32:28 AM

  it seems to me a good place to start in b&w would be to use a grey card and meter or at least use the sunny day f16 rule make your whites white your blacks black and you will get good tonal middle greys from there.Then try experimenting from there.

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3/22/2001 3:14:44 PM

Jeff S. Kennedy   I sure see a lot of references around here to this magical Sunny 16 Rule. I think people hope it will solve all of their exposure problems. The truth of the matter is Sunny 16 only works when there is bright sun up high in the sky. And (EVERYONE PAY ATTENTION TO THIS) that is the ABSOLUTE WORST time of the day to shoot! So forget about the Sunny 16 rule and learn how to use your meter.

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3/23/2001 12:47:48 AM

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