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Learning to See through Black and White Again

Shooting in black and white requires a certain discipline. You need to know what the focus of the picture should be. But fret not as this is a skill that can be learned over time, says professional photographers whom I’ve met.

I don’t shoot black-and-white films often. But when I do, I tend to use it for street photography purposes. However, it is still a hit-and-miss process for me as I have to re-calibrate my eyes to see things in black and white.

On one fine sunny day, I decided to shoot a couple of black-and-white shots just for fun. So I headed down to two places for this little exercise; the Merlion and Orchard Road. Why these two places? Simply because these are touristy places and people won’t bat an eyelid upon seeing someone carrying a camera and snapping away.

Originally, I thought I’ll try my hand at shooting the Merlion.

But it was the tourists taking photos with the Merlion that caught my attention. I knew I had to capture the photographic opportunity that just presented itself.

Following this, I headed down to Orchard Road. I decided to stake out ION Orchard as I could just sit at one of the many benches available there or just stand at one corner and snap away. But I didn’t fire at everything and anything that moved past me though I tried my hand at photographing the moment that a passerby would walk right between the life-sized sculptures.

Unfortunately, I missed the moment quite a number of times.

So I decided to just observe the people and photograph tourists photographing ION Orchard.

Because I was shooting ‘spontaneously’, I didn’t have high expectations of my little photo project. But when I got the films back from the lab, I was surprised at how shooting black and white can turn a mundane situation or scene into something more interesting and factual. I suppose this is because in the past, black-and-white photography was associated with documentary photos you would see in the newspapers.

Moving forward, I believe I’ll be experimenting with black and white photography more. Who knows, I may even try my hand at developing my own black-and-white negatives one day.

written by uncle_jay


  1. alex34


    Developing your own is a lot of fun and really easy. If you already have a scanner then an enlarger is not essential, though of course that would be the next step. I thoroughly recommend it!

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  2. uncle_jay


    @alex34: I'm actually quite keen to try developing my own B&W films. Will definitely be checking out the shops for the chemicals and stuff :)

    about 2 years ago · report as spam