Thursday, November 15, 2007

Black & White, Love

This is a great example of contrast from hell, technically speaking, of course. Artistically speaking, it's exactly this great contrast which makes the photo so interesting!

The pic is of the 'I Love You' wall in Montmartre which you've probably seen here before where there's a flipping great black wall covered in 'I love you' written in white in about a hundred languages. I'm pleased with this, though, because I was wondering on one of my photo tours how on earth to take an original shot of this oft-visited edifice! And then I found it - marvellous!

It's a wonderful marriage of scratchy black lines (the gaps between the shutters) on a pure white building right next to scratcy white lines (the 'I-love-you's) on a pure black wall. Yikes! A real challenge to get the exposure right but not one you should shy away from.

What you're aiming for is detail in the highlights and in the shadows. In normal English, this means that you mustn't completely white-out the building or black-out the wall so that you've got something to play with later. My advice for digi-users is simply take a lot of shots, checking the image after each shot to see if it looks ok.

For non-digi-users it's more difficult. The potential for under or over exposure is great, unless by some luck the camera's meters are 50% influenced by the white and 50% by the black and it all evens out! One of the simplest ways is to set your exposure by pointing the camera at something mid-way between black and white, such as grass, light grey concrete or even your hand (but only if you're a reasonably tanned whitey, or pretty pale darkie... good grief, this is complicated, isn't it?!).

In the end I managed to expose it pretty well on this shot in any case, and contented myself with playing around a bit with a couple of tricks on the computer to arrive at what you see here. I love changing the photo over all if it doesn't make it look too artificial, but I'm not keen on separating parts of photos and processing them separately. That moves just over to the wrong side of nerdy as far as I'm concerned and I reckon you might as well have taken two separate photos and stuck them together if you want to do that. But that's just my opinion and if you like fiddling to that extent, have fun!

Finally, composition-wise, I decided to cut the photo exactly down the middle with this thickish band of grey to create what I hope is a striking image. No 'rule of thirds' for this shot, folks (unless you count the dash of red)! Here I wanted to achieve a sort of mirror effect, where the mirror represented by the grey strip of wall converts black to white and vice versa.

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© 2007 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free

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2 comments:

J.C. said...

Brilliant perspective! This is an enlightening tutorial! I am learning to see things from various angle now!


Thanks,

J.C. of Subang Jaya Daily Photo

Paris Set Me Free said...

Thanks again for the comments. Nice to hear from you and I'm glad you find the lessons useful.

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