Text and Photos by Chuck Place©
Architecture is one of those photographic subjects that cries out to be captured in black and white. Composed of shapes, texture and light with little inherent color, architectural images often turn quite dramatic when color is stripped away.
It’s almost as if the building’s soul is revealed when photographed in black and white.
The choices I make in processing architecture images into b&w are highly subjective, of course. For black and white architecture images, I prefer more contrast than in my landscape images and more emphasis on texture than in my tight portraits.
I’m not trying to sell real estate. I’m selling drama and impact.
The inherent sculptural quality of a structure is what I am actually trying to illustrate. Sometime approaching a building as an abstract object can be interesting, as in the case of Southwest and Pueblo adobe buildings. The texture of the adobe (see above) is as important as defining the massive planes of this traditional style of architecture.
At the other end of the scale are sleek, modern buildings like the abstract Walt Disney Concert Hall, especially fun while shooting with a Lensbaby, which is designed to distort reality.
Often, details of a structure can tell the viewer as much about a building as an overview.
I find this especially true in the case of older styles of architecture, like Victorian, and buildings from other cultures like China. Details can be interesting just because we often tend not to focus on them when visiting a site.
Whether your favored architectural subject is a lonely church out in the middle of the Western plains or a busy multi-storied mall with levels that look like the ribs of a gigantic creature, converting your color architecture image to black and white will visually pare the subject down to its elemental components and reveal the true personality of a building.
Photographing a piece of architecture in black and white is rather like creating an insightful portrait of a person, only it doesn’t fidget as much.
Check out Black and White Photography Conversions and Black and White People Photography on this site and for more photo classes, check out my Spring 2020 class schedules in the Non-Credit Program at Santa Barbara City College. Thanks.