This week I talked to Martyn Boyce, a successful wedding photographer who has witnessed with regret the shift towards the digital grind. Here, he shares his tips for some really fantastic black and white analog shots.
Martyn has been in the wedding photography industry for a little longer than I have been alive. A few hours longer, to be precise, as he received his qualification on the day that I was born.
Of course, many, including myself, would say that to be a photographer all you need is a camera and that crazy wish to document everything you see on small pieces of light sensitive paper. However, if we were to measure by that standard, Martyn would have been a photographer for a great many more years than that, and that would just be showing off.
So, what does a wedding photographer have to say about that most striking and elusive form of photography; shooting in black and white?
First, don’t look for color; look for contrast.
“This may seem obvious, but contrast is what gives Black and White the opportunity for a really dramatic capture. Shadows, cloud structure, or even clear variations in colour will all shine through in black and white. This is a great tip for landscapes, which can take on a real sense of grandeur when shot without colour.”
Look for detail.
“Black and White is great for close ups or portraits because it really picks out detail because of the high contrast. Small features on a face or on a dress will be captured well, where they might be swallowed in colour if using a different film.”
“If you’re shooting with black and white for the first time, remember that the film will react differently to the light, and it may be worth shooting a test roll of film, trying out different lighting and different subjects, to give you an idea of what your film needs, and how you can maximise its potential”
The speed of the film is important.
“800 ISO film is great for low light, but is likely to leave your pictures grainy, especially for longer exposures. Try 100 or 200iso and leave the shutter open for slightly longer for a smooth photo with great contrast.”
“Remember that you can always adjust the film as you develop it (if you’re brave enough!) and increase the contrast on photos that seem to be lacking the drama you intended. Make sure not to forget the fine details which are so unique to black and white photography.”
I’m definitely tempted to start using black and white more often – I know many lomographers who swear by it. There’s a lot of fantastic film you can get for cameras like my Diana, and with 110 film making a triumphant comeback through the Orca 110 Black and White, the possibilities just became endless.