My formal training was in B&W film. I think that’s a great way to learn the basics like composition and depth of field. It takes more effort to visualize the final image instead of thinking, “Oh, look at the pretty flower.” While some scenes cry out for B&W, such as trees in the snow and other high-contrast images, I’ve found that some bland pictures can be enhanced by converting them to B&W. That’s what I attempt to demonstrate here with some pictures I took along the Little Gunpowder Falls in Gunpowder State Park.
The first picture is a covered bridge. Perhaps if I were better at using Lightroom, I could do more to improve this picture. This is an old covered bridge, but there is nothing special about it. The color is fairly bland and it blends into the greyish trees behind it; the modern road sign is distracting; and the stone foundation is probably the most interesting part of the picture.
Here’s my B&W version. I increased the contrast to make everything sharper. The bridge has more character now and looks older. Best of all, the road sign is no longer a bright yellow distraction. It could be darkened or even removed entirely.
The next picture is of a modern bridge that was nearby. It’s made of brown steel and is framed by bare trees, rocks, and concrete. It’s halfway to being B&W already.
Here’s my B&W version. The emphasis is now on the lines of the bridge rather than the rocks or trees. In fact, the jumbled rocks and random trees serve as a nice background.
This factory is an abandoned mill. The windows are broken or boarded up, the water tower is rusty, the bushes are overgrown, and a large, bare tree looms over everything. It’s already quite desolate, but I wanted to make it feel grittier.
I think that getting rid of the red brick and the color of the leaves and bushes really adds to the empty feeling. The buildings seem older and this picture could have been taken during the Great Depression.