• Melanie

The Black & White photo challenge: How to choose the best photos to convert

Over the last year, there have been multiple black and white photo challenges across Facebook and Instagram. I took the challenge in early October on Instagram, and then again in mid-November on Facebook.


It had been years since I'd done any black and white photography, and I didn't have time to go out and photograph new work for a social media game. I used several photos I'd already taken in color and transformed them into duotones and black and white images. So, how did I choose which ones I'd use?


Something that was hammered into me while in college was that high contrast is for amateurs, and that beautiful black and white images need tone. So, I looked for a few images that had a range of color, with good highlights and shadows with some detail.


Those shots all looked like garbage when converted. Bland, boring, blah! Like looking at a field freshly tilled: all mud.


I started again, this time looking for what I actually liked instead of what might technically work. I still looked for highlights and shadows, but I didn't let it overtake my focus. Here's a sampling of what I came up with:

This tree line is one of my favorites. I love how the black and white photo brings out the bare trees, creating the subtle contrast and tone that my professors would love.


This lighthouse photo works really well as a black and white photo. The whitecaps of the waves, the shadows of the rocks, and the tones throughout the water, sky, and structure span the full spectrum of tonality.


And here's a shot that's all contrast! Take THAT, rules!!


Another one with an excellent span of tones. Note how you can still see details in the highlights of the petals and the shadow of the crack.


If you choose to participate in one of these projects, remember that the key word is challenge. Challenge yourself to explore your neighborhood, go to a different area of town, or take some time to notice and photograph the details of your yard. On the other side of that coin, don't take it too seriously! It's meant to be fun!