Back to Basics – B+W

Back to Basics B+W


I’ve had some challenges this week, and for some of the decisions I made, I had to to listen to my basic gut. I had to strip away all my surrounding influences, until I could see the basic values that I have been raised with. And the thing is, it wasn’t a choice between black and white – that would’ve been simple. No, these were subtle choices between different shades of grey, neither of which were right or wrong. The shade that was right for me, just happened to be different to what was right for everyone else. And the absolute incomprehension from everyone around me, of why I had to choose a different grey, surprised me.

But that’s the thing. Most decisions in life aren’t black and white. They’re just different shades of grey. Aren’t they? You just have to find the shade of grey that suits you in every situation.

Black and White Photography is also all about choosing the right shade of grey. It’s all in the exposure – it’s all about which area you choose to be your mid-grey, with a range of lighter and darker greys falling to either side of that.

When you’re shooting in manual, you can decide which area to read your exposure from and that becomes your mid-grey. If you expose for the dark areas, these dark tones are lifted and lightened to become your mid-grey. Or if you take your reading off the light areas, you pull them down, darkening them to become your mid-grey. In that way, you control your entire image. Once you’re able to do this well, in basic Black&White, you’re able to continue thinking in this way, when you work in colour. (BEYOND AUTO: How to switch to Black&White mode )

As you know, I’ve been needing to come to grips with lots of BASICS. So while I was baking a huge batch of rusks this week, I grabbed my camera and decided to take some un-styled black&white shots as I went along. Just an exercise to remind my brain to see in terms of grey.

Without the seductive distraction of colour I found texture in the soft flour, lovely clean forms in the eggs and curved linear patterns in my dirty dishes. And with each shot I fiddled until I was satisfied that I’d found just the right mid-grey – the grey that was right for me.

Flour and Eggs





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