[tweetmeme]I’m a real fan of black and white photography — doesn’t matter if it’s film or digital. There’s just something about it that can transform a photo so drastically by the “simple” removal of color.

So I was thrilled when my buddy Andrew Gibson contacted me about the release of his book on “The Magic of Black & White“. He’s a great photographer and his black & white photos are stunning — so I was certain that the book would be a good one.

I was right.

The book is a relatively quick read, but offers up a great number of tips, techniques, and guidance for black and white photography. It’s also beautifully illustrated with a ton of Andrew’s fine art work.

See the end of this post for a chance to win a free copy of the book.

“The Magic of Black & White, Part One – Vision” can be purchased through Craft & Vision. The links in this post are affiliate links.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Magic of Black & White is a 58 page downloadable PDF eBook. The book is intended to be viewed in a two-page format (as you can see by the dashed lines in the samples below). Throughout the book, you’ll be presented with specific topics on black & white photography and large sample photos from Andrew’s collection of work.

After a few single-page “chapters” (Introduction, Why Black & White?, The Art of Black & White, and Learning to See in Monochrome), we dive into The Elements of Black & White Photography. This section covers many topics along the lines of tonal contrast, highlights, simplicity, minimalism, complexity, shape and form, texture, lines, foreground interest, negative space, shapes and patterns, and contrast. Each topic gives thoughtful insights and supporting imagery.

From there, we move on to Light in Black & White Photography, which covers the various lighting scenarios and how to use them to your advantage. The last main section goes into Subjects for Black & White Photography, and we look at several options where black & white may make more sense than color. This is all followed up by a conclusion and final thoughts from Andrew.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Gibson is a writer and photographer based in the south of England. He works for one of the UK’s leading photography magazines and also freelances. He loves to travel and one region he’s been drawn back to time and time again is South America, in particular Argentina and the Andean regions of Bolivia and Peru. He works in a ‘fine art documentary’ style and presents most of his work in black and white.

You can find Andrew’s work at his main website or at his blog. He’s also a regular contributor at Phototuts+, Smashing Magazine, and the Fine Art Photoblog. On top of all that, he’s an employee of EOS Magazine. Busy guy!

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

The eBook is longer than a blog article, but shorter than a printed book. I feel that the eBook medium is perfect for what is presented. Andrew gives a great introduction to black and white photography with content that strikes a perfect balance between educational and inspirational. It’s not so technical that the beginner will be lost, and not so “artsy-fartsy” that it isn’t informative — again, it’s just a great balance.

I would personally recommend this eBook to anybody looking to explore or improve their black & white photography. It will definitely get your gears turning and probably give you a few new ideas. At the time of publishing this review, the price of the book is $5 USD (subject to change at any time), which is a steal if you ask me.

Part Two of this book (to be announced) will examine the means of creating the black and white image in the digital darkroom. I’ll update you guys when it’s published.

“The Magic of Black & White, Part One – Vision” can be purchased through Craft & Vision.

WANT A FREE COPY?

[UPDATE 03-30-2010: The contest is over, and the winners have been selected]

[tweetmeme]Andrew has also given me a coupon code for 3 free eBooks to give out! I have a feeling that this particular contest will draw quite a few entries, so I’m limiting the entry period to ONE DAY (contest will end March 30, 2010 at 8am PDT). Here’s how you can enter for a chance at a free book:

1) Submit a photo and/or link to a black and white photo you’ve taken. The photo must be your own. Bonus points for supplemental descriptions.

OR

2) Submit a Flickr Gallery (not a set — a gallery) of black and white photos. Curate a gallery and pop the link in the comments below. Bonus points for supplemental thoughts within the gallery and/or comment.

One entry per person; only the first entry for any given person will be considered. Again, ONE DAY for entries, and I’ll post a comment of my own stating the cut-off time — so if you don’t see the cut-off comment, feel free to post an entry.

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Shot at Georgioupoli, Chania, Greece with an analog Canon EOS 30, a couple of years ago.
I was experimenting with developing my own negatives & then scanning and editing them in Photoshop.

March 28, 2010 11:36 pm

Film Noir?

Revisiting an outtake from the “52 Week Project”

Converted to Black & White using Lightroom – trying to give the overall feel of a “Film Noir” cinematic style

Cheers

March 29, 2010 12:01 am

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Took this pic on during a trip to Adelaide, South Australia
There are all these people collecting plastic bottles & cans for recycling. Apparently in SA they will pay 5c for every can/bottle which is a fantastic idea. Too bad they don’t have it anywhere else in Australia.

The man in this pic is somewhat old, it’s a tough life for him.

Gear: Canon 450d, 18-200mm f3.5 kit lens
Processing: B/W conversion in Lightroom, Additional blur in Photoshop

March 29, 2010 12:50 am

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about the photo:
This tower used to house the black powder reserves of Prague. According to wikipedia, building started in 1475 and lasted for 400 years. It’s details are really breathtaking (I’ll have some photos of the details, too).

For this photo I combined three exposures to an HDR and then converted it to a black & White

Great idea for a contest Brian!

March 29, 2010 1:06 am

I already bought the book, but I like to submit a picture anyway.

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Cheers,
Tom

March 29, 2010 1:19 am

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Taken at this years MCN show in Birmingham, UK with a D60..

March 29, 2010 1:28 am

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Japanese Garden, Seattle

March 29, 2010 1:44 am

Taken from Huntington Beach pier, teh colour version was a little flat as it was so overcast but the B&W conversion really brought out the texture and power of the wave and water. The picture is definately better viewed large as there is so much detail in the wave that gets lost on the smaller version.

Conversion was done in lightroom, boosted contrast and blacks to define ripples more and used adjustment brush to bring back blownout detail in the whitewater.

cheers

March 29, 2010 1:54 am

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Coverted this shot to B+W which seemed to add so much more life to the image. Have found the B+W conversion can save quite a few shots, now I look for shots that would work in B+W right from the start.

March 29, 2010 3:04 am

Here’s a picture of a tulip: Canon 1000d, using a flash with snoot to light it and converted to B+W in Lightroom.

March 29, 2010 3:17 am

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March 29, 2010 3:47 am

Mother and daughter portrait. The daughter had a port-wine stain birthmark on her cheek that just came out very bright purple on all coloured images and although there is no problem showing it nevertheless it detracted from the subject in this photo of mother-daughter love by drawing the eye.
So i desaturated and both I and the subjects were very happy with the result.

March 29, 2010 4:22 am

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March 29, 2010 4:30 am

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I’m particularly happy with this photo, as it is part of the very first self-developed black and white roll. I did it yesterday and I’m so excited about the results! I sense I just scraped the surface of black and white photography, and can’t wait to deepen my knowledge of this magic world!

This was taken on a HP5+ film, using a Pentax MX camera with a 77mm lens.

March 29, 2010 4:51 am

A photo I took two weeks ago in San Francisco of the fort that used to guard the bay. From my flickr set at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sscherbinski

March 29, 2010 5:15 am

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God and Country

Shot with a Canon XTi, ISO-100, f6.7, 1/1000 and converted to B&W in PS-CS3. This is a small church and cemetery near Wake Forest, NC and honors local veterans who paid the ultimate price.

March 29, 2010 5:22 am

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Shot at the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, NC. The Gardens are gorgeous and provide lots of opportunities for great plant photos, but I particularly liked the way this one came out. The brightness of the white flower against the darker background of the leaves (I made no adjustments except to convert it to B/W, as I recall) feels so happy and hopeful to me, like a less literal interpretation of a ray of sunshine through the clouds. It’s one of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken, and I’m sort of proud of having gotten it with a little PowerShot, since my husband had appropriated our EOS10D at the time.

(Click photo to go to the photo in my Zenfolio space where EXIF info is available.)

March 29, 2010 5:23 am

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Taken at the stairwell in the art museum Küppersmühle in Duisburg (Germany). The convolution of the light looks much better in black and white than in color. If you want to compare take a look at http://www.flickr.com/photos/go_freyer/2948134180

Olaf

PS: I already own the eBook. It’s really great.

March 29, 2010 5:33 am

Looks like a good read!

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This is a picture of Peek-A-Boo slot canyon year Escalante, Utah. I actually set up my tripod against the walls of the canyon to get a narrow aperture and lots of DOF.

March 29, 2010 5:33 am

Don't let them pull you down

I did this Holga shot at a nearby wildife refuge. I love the way Holga photos are dreamlike.

March 29, 2010 6:10 am

I Love Black and White that is truly GOOD! Here is a gallery of some of my favorite B/W from Flickr!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/22967304@N07/galleries/72157622962582765/

March 29, 2010 6:38 am

Here is one of my Black and White photos!

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Shot with my Nikon D80 and my faithful 50mm in sunny North Carolina. These three siblings could play all day and had so much fun together!

March 29, 2010 6:40 am

This is the hood ornament of a 1941 Chevrolet called Ruby. I converted it to black and white in the processing and then added a filter effect to give it a more surreal quality.

March 29, 2010 6:45 am

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Viaduct over the river Weaver, Cheshire, UK.

March 29, 2010 6:46 am


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So, this simple portrait of my wife, Deanna, turned out quite lovely. I really do cherish this photo of her. It captures her beauty amazingly well. I love how the depth of field directs you right up to her eyes, which just pop quite nicely.

March 29, 2010 7:14 am

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Taken in Portland, Maine outside a vintage t-shirt shop.

March 29, 2010 7:14 am

This is my latest post on my blog about the Kinsol Trestle on Vancouver Island. I took a few shots and converted them to black and white. I added some details about the trestle and how I processed the images in the post. B&W seemed appropriate for a photo of a 90 year old trestle!

http://www.stewturnerphotography.com/

March 29, 2010 8:31 am

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Self Portrait, with my guitar in one light and one cfl in the other hand above me :P

March 29, 2010 8:39 am

Just a shot of mother & son done a few weeks ago. Simple B&W convertion to focus on the intimiacy (sp?) of the bond them between. I think this was taken with the 24-70 f/2.8 lens on a d700.

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March 29, 2010 8:39 am

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I always come back to this photo as one of my favorite B&W shots. The expression alone easily makes this one of the best candid photos I have ever taken of one of our children. We will now never forget how amazed she was experiencing her very first snowfall.

March 29, 2010 8:39 am

This is our travelling companion Arie Visser, making up for his (first) check dive in the Brayka house reef in Marsa Alam (Egypt). Arie is one of our pensionados, but a scuba diver of the first hour, he’s diving already for decades & started in an era when you had to fix everything your selves, including most of the equipment. He’s most fond of diving on ship wrecks in the Northsea – and there are hundreds. I suppose he has seen them nearly all.
If you meet him, don’t show any interest in diving! Because you’re burried in an avelange of stories and you won’t make it home in time for dinner.
The ‘modern equipment’ he is dressed with on this photo is of course rented at the diving centre in Egypt. But the ring you see on his little finger is an omen he always wears, an antiquity found on one of his wreck dives long time ago.

March 29, 2010 9:24 am

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This is what’s left of the Pesuta. A 264 foot log carrier, that came aground in 1928 on the northeast shore of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).

Captured with a Rebel XTi & Canon 17 – 85mm lens w/polarizer … converted to b&w in PS.

March 29, 2010 9:30 am

Hello Brian, I have just started to convert some of my existing photos to Black & White and here’s a link to my gallery in Flickr.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/miguelcarvajal/sets/72157622172890497/
Thank you for consideration.

March 29, 2010 9:38 am

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Shot with my Mamiya C220. It’s just a blessing for a photographer to see his wife looking for good light when she has to put on her make-up ;-) . This was one of my first scans with a test scanner (poor test results). When the new scanner arrives, this is one to re-scan.

March 29, 2010 10:10 am

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Asclepias – Milkweed – pod bursting with seeds. Comes from a set of four shots of the plant.

Shot with Olympus E-510 and converted to B&W using Lightroom 2.

March 29, 2010 10:34 am

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Shot with Olympus XA, Ilford XP2. Venice

March 29, 2010 11:26 am

Here’s Looking At You Kid!

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This cutie lives in the Lion Park in Joburg, South Africa. We were heading out of the gate after a long day and stopped to take one last pic of this tall fella. We thought he would run away but he just stood there staring at us for a couple of minutes and then sauntered off.

Way too cute. :-)

March 29, 2010 1:10 pm

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shot this candid on a subway platform in nyc late one evening… took me a little to gather the courage to kneel down right in front of these guys but i’m glad i eventually shot it…

taken w canon xsi + 50mm/1.4

March 29, 2010 2:37 pm

All Soul’s Church tower, just down my street. One of the less visited old landmarks in DC, but beloved by the locals.

I went for composition in this shot knowing how well the monochrome would come out in the end. http://www.flickr.com/photos/41337035@N06/

March 29, 2010 3:41 pm

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This photo was taken by Lake Baikal in Russia. There were some nice blues, but the contrast of the tree and the interesting textures of the clouds made me turn the photo b&w.

March 29, 2010 5:06 pm

I thought I publish black and white images on my blog quite regularly, but when it came to pick one to post here, there was hardly anything to chose from. Thanks goodnes for Lightroom filters capabilities ;), there were some more residing in my library.
I chose the image I took a couple of years ago on our annual trip to New York. I love how the light is being reflected from the low hanging clouds over the city.
In a sense it is also one of those images which are naturally black and white, and desaturation of colors in software is just to clean and accent the forms in the photograph.

March 29, 2010 5:55 pm

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One thing I’ve tried to do more recently is to actually approach people and take their portraits, even at the sake of an awkward situation. I hate missed photo opportunities, so I’m trying to fix that.

A friend of mine showed up at an event recently looking like this. So unique, and so perfectly black and white. I was so excited and told him we were going to take pictures. I led him to an alley and we had a makeshift photo session. Lubbock, Texas

March 29, 2010 6:47 pm

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This was for a Digital Photography School contest. Something about this frame and Tiffany style lamp just evokes a nostalgic feeling in me. Nostalgia is appropriate, though, as that picture in that frame is of me and my wife from over 12 years ago.

March 29, 2010 7:19 pm

I am a beginning photography student who decided to dive in head first and started a Project 365 the first of January. I’m on Day 88 and I’m still lovin’ it!

I saw this park bench and couldn’t resist it. My boyfriend saw me slumped back trying to grab the shot and couldn’t believe that I would stop to take a picture of a bench. This is one of my favorite photographs because it is reminiscent of a European bench when, in fact, I shot this in Santa Barbara after a rainstorm.

March 29, 2010 11:45 pm

That’s it! Game over. I’ll choose the 3 winners and announce them soon.

March 30, 2010 8:09 am

I don’t envy you. There’s some amazing work in there to choose from.

March 30, 2010 8:14 am


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