Black & White Sunrise – Its More Than The Colours . . .

I took this photo on good Friday, bright and early at Kings Beach near Victor Harbor.

Final edited image.
Final edited image.

As we pulled into the car park (I use the term car park loosely, more like the dirt at the side of the dead end road) the skies were heavy with clouds, grey and flat. Have you gotten  up before sunrise to take a photo, driven for an hour to get to the spot you want, only to find the beautiful sunrise you have visualized in your head is hidden behind the clouds? Well that was this morning.

We were there, so we trekked along the narrow path along the cliff face to the beach anyway, hoping that maybe the clouds would break.

The absence of sunrise colours and dynamic light made me start looking at the scene in a different way. Instead of focusing on the beautiful dynamic colours of a perfect sunrise, my eyes started to pick out textures, shapes, contrast and tonal ranges. Instead of composing an image based on the colours I could see, my eye was looking into a deeper layer to the scene and picking out the hidden gems on the landscape.

The gray clouds were no longer flat and boring, but full of texture, tones and contrast. The textures of the rocks and sand, the movement of the water all of a sudden were making a dull life less morning of photography seem spectacular and full of endless possibilities.

Here is the above scene in camera RAW:

RAW Image straight out of Camera.
RAW Image straight out of Camera.

While the RAW image looks flat and lifeless, I could visualise the final result in my head. I knew what I wanted to capture, and where I would take the image once I got home on the computer. In my mind I was viewing the scene in black & white, getting past the uninteresting colours of the morning and finding the things in the scene that were interesting.

Converted to Black & White in camera RAW.
Converted to Black & White in camera RAW.

I think digital photography has helped to create lazy photographers. Most of my photographic life has been digital, so I put my name on that list and to be honest, I would not want to go back to the ‘Good Old Film Days’. I have dabbled in film, be that good or bad, shooting, developing and printing the film myself in the darkroom. Using the “zone system” to place the shadows or highlights right where you want them.  I find just thinking about the zone system before pressing the shutter now,  is an exercise that really improves my RAW imagery.  It means I consider the elements in the photographs as elements and how they should work as part of the whole, finished image.

Seeing in Black & White doesn’t mean my final image is presented that way, as in the image above, but I do find it improves the composition, tonal range, and quality of my RAW image, which can only help to make a better final image – be that B&W or in Colour.

P.S – If anyone is interested, I am running a competition on my facebook page, giving you the opportunity to win this Image as a 12×24 inch Metallic Print. For all the details and to enter visit Ryan Carter Images on facebook. Its free to enter, so head on over and get your entry in!


3 Comments Add yours

  1. benrowef64 says:

    I much prefer the colour image at the beginning the black and white image seemed to me a little flat.
    I agree with the comment about digital making people lazy but there were also lazy film photographers as well. I believe that the active (not lazy) photographers are the ones being the most creative.

  2. These are some great shots, and a great discussion about the rather controversial topic of post processing in photography. I agree with the lazy photographers statement. I think that there are many people, too many people, who see the editing as the most important part of the process, leaving the actual capturing of an image behind. I am not a professional photographer, and so my opinion here might have little weight, but I firmly believe that the physical shooting of a camera should always be weighted more heavily than what comes after. That initial vision of light, that initial framing of both space and time.

    Anyways, I really like your stuff! And I will be back for more.

    1. Thanks! Yeah as a professional I understand the value in post production, but it’s all ways best to get the shot as good as possible in camera. The better the raw the more possibilities in post too.

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