The black and white photographer’s guide to light and contrast

The black and white photographer's guide to light and contrast

Working with natural light in black and white

Working with natural light in black and white

Overcast days don’t necessarily mean dull lighting. It’s often possible to find spots where the lighting is more interesting.

For example, if you want to take a portrait shot, look for some nearby trees or a doorway – anywhere where some of the sky can be closed off.

The smaller the area of sky that’s visible, the more ‘directional’ the light it produces.

Now you can adjust your position or the subject’s so that the light is at just the right angle, arranging classic soft, ‘three-quarter’ lighting (frontal but to one side) for your portrait.

Alternatively, find some shade under some trees, stand inside it and position your subject at the edge of the shade.

Now they’re effectively backlit. If you get the exposure right, the background will be much brighter, which will help your subject stand out, and you may get a nice rim-lighting effect around the hair.

PAGE 1: The black and white photographer’s guide to lighting direction
PAGE 2: The black and white photographer’s guide to light quality
PAGE 3: Understanding point source lighting
PAGE 4: Working with natural light in black and white
PAGE 5: Metering tips for black and white photographers
PAGE 6: Exposure tips for black and white photographers

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