No Colour November

A Black and White Photography for November

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no colour November hero image black and white tower

It’s pretty easy to find firm dividing lines in societies around the world. Republican and Democrate. Apple and Microsoft, and in the photography world there is colour vs black and white.

A highly devicive issue it has been one that I’ve tried to avoid for a while but recently I’ve found myself more and more inrigued. Despite photographing most things in colour, Black and White has a certain appeal to me especially as the works of some of my heroes from now and then (Ansel Adams, Trent Parke, Sebastian Salgado and Henri Cartier-Brenson). So I’ve come up with a personal challenge that I think you might find interesting and want to take part in as well.

No Colour November

As simple as it sounds, for the Month of November I will take only black and white photos using my camera. In fact, the Fujifilm x100t has a great little tool to help. You can set the film simulation to Black and White. This instantly saves images as Black and White rather than in colour meaning you’ll see only black and white images without any post processing (mimicing the old film set up a bit). HOWEVER, you can go further and if you use the Electronic viewfinder or LCD screen, you will see the shot you are about to take in Black and White.

In my mind this is a great way to help my eyes adjust for searching for black and white images. As it stands I’m often searching for contrasting colours so that my subjects will stand out against the background, Black and white takes that away (to some degree, obviously figure to ground is still important) but adds other elements to consider in photography.

With all that considered here are a few pros and cons to colour vs black and white in photos

Team Colour

  • Colour helps to tell the time of day
  • Colour helps to tell the season
  • Colour schemes can set a mood (cool tones = relaxed, warm = energetic etc.)
  • Contrasting colours can help one aspect of a photo stand out

Team Black and white

  • Can lead to timeless images
  • Can accentuate the highlights and shadows
  • More sureal than colour
  • Lack of colour helps to focus on the subjects and actions

I’m sure there are some other factors to consider (post answers in the comments below) and perhaps when you weigh up the two sides, it’s no surprise that Black and White is very common in street photography.

So for this month I’m taking up the challenge. Only Black and White photos for the whole of November. I may publish a few more colour photos (from before November) but I’m only going to take black and white images this month. Are you up for No Colour November?

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I'm an English as a foreign language teacher, currently based in Krakow, Poland who also writes for and loves helping people.

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