Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Lens

Over the years, I’ve developed a joy for taking photos. Of the images I’ve created with my camera, I’m still drawn to black and white photography. There is a simplicity in black and white photography: a timelessness. Without color, a photograph feels ageless.

I suppose that is the beauty of photography: discovering things that were always there, but you never noticed.

10 MUST-KNOW TIPS FOR BETTER NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

And, with a bit of luck (that decisive moment), you capture a single slice of eternity. As I learned how capture better images (I’m still learning!), I enjoy looking back to see how my perspective through the lens has changed.

Not only did I improve on a technical level, but I realized that with more time behind the camera I started to see my World, differently. I have written other articles about photography here.

I hope you draw some inspiration from my images. You can follow me on Pinterest if you like what you see.


Here are my 40 black and white photographs, captured with a Sony full-frame camera and a 40mm prime lens (Voigtlander).

1. Human Unexpected

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida.

A gentleman walked into my frame from the left side. I took the shot with the intention of capturing the silhouettes of the people in the background. But, this unexpected photobomb turned out to be a happy accident. The counter of this foreground counter makes the image, helping me to frame the action deeper in the field.

2. Doggy Reflection

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
My home.

This is a photo of my pet terrier dog. Fully grown, she’s a handful and here she sits, staring out the front door at the street beyond. She’s rearing to go outside, but this is during Winter. It’s cold and the light is a hollow trick. Capturing this image took a bit of acrobatics as I had to get really low for this perspective. The angled shadows and light cast from the doorway frame this little doggy. In my opinion, I love this image because it captures a quiet moment of reflection (for me and likely for this tiny mammal). The “decisive moment” here is captured forever.

3. Serious Cap

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
IKEA furniture store.

I felt a bit sneaky about this one. I always have my camera with me, even when I’m shopping at a furniture store. This man with a baseball cap did not notice me taking a quick snap. He had been walking around looking at these chairs, and the intensity of his search intrigued me. Did I look this serious when shopping for things in a store? I can get that way: focused. I suppose when your attention is on something, you can’t help being “preoccupied” in mind.

4. Backwards

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
IKEA furniture store.

At the furniture store (IKEA) and saw this father (like me), playing with his kids. Although in this image, he looks a tad serious and tired, perhaps. The boy on the shopping cart is having the time of his life. What a way to push a shopping cart: backwards! I only shoot with prime normal prime lenses (40mm focal length on a full frame sensor), so I did have to get pretty close for this shot.

5. Determined Fun

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Chinese New Year in Chinatown, NYC.

People mingled about holding paper confetti launchers. I love how these people were trying to figure out how to operate the launchers. Apparently, you have to squeeze and pull a string to get them to fire properly. At such a festive time, these folks looked determined to have fun.

6. Boy Stroll

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Oculus Building in NYC.

Black and white photography helps to focus the viewer on the subject. Even a tad blurry, my image still shows the action of this boy strolling through the Oculus Terminal in New York City. I suppose this is why street photography leans toward black and white images; you can maintain strong contrast without losing the impact despite a poorer rendering. Shoot at higher ISO and let your mind’s eye do the work.

7. Grid Walk

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Oculus Building in NYC.

From above, I saw the shadow of the man cast along the walkway. The lines on the floor created a sideways path for his shadow to travel. Black and white photography pushes you to see things differently. You have to let go of the normal perspective of things to look further. Lose your point of reference for a while in the viewfinder, and you’ll never cease to be surprised by what you may see.

8. Look Out, Up

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Grand Central Station in NYC.

I’m walking about with my camera, planning to take some street photography, and here is this gift standing there for me. Looking up, I setup my longer shutter, handheld, I go for the long exposure. Turns out that not only was the standing man already posing for a purpose (look at the other man in the background shooting this image, too, from the opposite side), but to my chagrin, the image came out great! Lesson: Take the shot, even if you think it’ll be really difficult.

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9. Slide Commute

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Grand Central Station in New York City.

Long exposure is always fun. Check out some of my night photography. I’m still learning how to use a slower shutter and stable platform to create action in a still photograph. I love how the people in this image are sliding up and down in the frame.

10. Other Worlds Under

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Dumbo, Brooklyn in New York City.

There are Other Worlds to see through a viewfinder. Sometimes it takes a bit of water and magical lighting to make it visible. Depending on how you view a puddle, the reflected view of the World in the water shifts from sky to Earth, and everything in between.

11. Yes, Please.

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Montreal, Canada.

So, I’m eating my lunch in a seafood shop, and notice this very animated conversation. At the end, the man with the dark coat says, “Yes, Please.” That was all I remember hearing. How polite! This dichotomy is captured forever in black and white.

12. Morning Two-Wheel

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Edmonton, Canada.

I’m walking on a path across a bridge over a river. Zoom! Bicyclists zip past me carrying all sorts of bags on their bikes and back. Out comes my camera. Maybe, this long exposure trick would work here as long as I don’t get hit by a passing two-wheeled commuter. It’s 7:32am and everyone but me is high on coffee.

13. Door Rush

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Washington, DC.

Somewhere in the city in Washington, DC., I notice a door with great hard shadows playing off the structure. I’m ready to capture it, and pop appears a woman striding fast and hard. I’m snapping images and this is blurry one is my favorite. There’s a rhythm in this photo from left to right: dark, light, dark, light….

14. Shadow Stroll

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Edmonton, Canada.

Black and white photography is all about using light and shadow to capture shapes. I love how this image frames the person walking between these massive columns, intersected by thinner shafts of shadow. With the shadows, it’s almost as if the man was a part of the bridge.

15. Lookin’ Tired at Me

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Oculus building in NYC.

Street photography often requires you to leave your comfort zone. You have to be prepared to encounter people who might not want their photo taken. Here, I’m merely standing in corridor leading from the subway PATH train exit. As people walk by me, I zone focus and capture the images that create themselves in my viewfinder. It’s rush hour on a weekday and people look haggard, tired, and weary. Some are tourists, of course, but who can tell?

16. Back-to-Back

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
World Trade Center in NYC.

The strong sunlight helped create this reflection of the man looking on his phone. This image was originally much larger. I cropped this photo to focus on this subject. When in doubt, fill your frame. When you can’t do it in camera, crop everything that doesn’t tell your story.

17. Baby Strut

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
This is my daughter. She has learned to walk.

18. Magic Door Light

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Barnes and Nobles Booksellers in the cafe.

When you have your camera with you everywhere you go, you’re able to capture opportunities. I love how the light strikes through the frame. Almost as if you should follow it…. coffee anyone?

19. Photog Cottonball

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Chinatown, NYC.

I’m not sure why I captured this image. I noticed this woman taking photos of the Chinese New Year festivities. It’s a fairly cold time of year. She’s wearing a hat with a giant puff ball on it. The furry ball not only bounces in the wind, but created a whimsical bobbing motion whenever she raised the camera to take a photo. I’m shooting some distance away and this image shows her a moment before she catches me pointing my lens at her. Yep, guilty!

20. Snow Rider

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
New York City in a blizzard.

The snow coming down, the reflection in the roadway, and the rhythm of light take me back to that moment standing in the cold. The shaft of lamp light lead off into the city distance. The bicyclist is oblivious to the beauty (or so it seems) and rides away at a good clip.

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21. Going Up!

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Oculus in NYC.

Who says you need to keep photos grounded. I flipped this image vertically and it does the job. He’s looking down, she’s going up. It all works!

22. Attention Seekers

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
PATH train commuters in NYC.

These are commuters coming off the subway in the Oculus building in NYC. Look at the zombie-like herd of people looking at their smartphones. None of them noticed how close I was to them. I probably have 20 or more images standing in the same area. None of them show people looking straight ahead. Always down at the phones.

23. Moment Stolen

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
IKEA furniture store.

Yeah, I know sneaky. They shouldn’t have been showing this much affection in public…or was it me?

24. Art Imitates

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
I can’t remember where this was.

So, my goal here was to capture her with the same pose as drawn-art behind her. Obviously, this might have been the artists intention for the mural: to reflect the real world. And, here it is.

25. To the Flame

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Disney Cruise Ship.

This girl admires the large Mickey Mouse chandelier. I’m thinking that this is the perfect metaphor for corporate America. Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney. I’m merely amused by the contrast this image created.

26. Heel Floater

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
In a mall, somewhere.

She floats on a white walkway. Oddly, she didn’t cast much of a shadow on the ground, which made her seem to float across the floor. Maybe, I overexposed the image?

27. Homeland

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Grand Central Station in NYC.

The security at these historic landmarks is always heavy. Look at those rifles and the stern looks. This is the new normal.

28. Raw Ride

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Burlington, Vermont at the waterfront.

At the edge of Lake Champlain, the water is still. People stroll or bike, and here I am having fun with my camera. Protecting the highlights in this black and white photograph, only the sky and water hold any detail; everything else is cast in shadow and silhouette.

29. Restful

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Montreal, Canada.

We are at the top of a mountain, not a very tall one (Mount Royal). People are resting and mingling about taking in the city sights. I’m looking for new perspective and angles to shoot images. I like how this photo captures angles and structure. The composition pulls you in only if you want to.

30. Shadow Man

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Burlington, Vermont at the waterfront.

Black and white photograph inspires creativity because your mind has to fill in the blanks. Without color some elements merge and become something else. Here I see two subjects: the pillar and the man. Both casting a shadow: one slender, the other broad. What does this all mean? It all depends on your perspective.

31. Under Bricks

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Somewhere.

People never realize how awesome their shadows look against the ground. Pay attention and you’ll see another side of you, literally.

32. Blondie Cup

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
In a coffee shop in Boston, MA.

I’m unsure how I got away with this photo. I must have been like 9 feet away (less than 3 meters). And yet, I wasn’t noticed. A 40mm lens isn’t very large, but I’m not a small person. The light was excellent. Shooting at 100 ISO at f8, I got all the detail that my lens-camera combo could muster.

33. Hotel Hat

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
The Warwick in NYC.

That top hat tho’.

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34. Air Hug

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Somewhere in Iceland.

Underexposed, but I love this image. It perfectly captures the breadth and wildness of the landscape (without showing the landscape, of course). You cannot capture the awesomeness of some places you visit with a camera. A photo cannot do the experience justice. This image sums up what we tried to do: hug the beauty of the place. Wrapping your arms around the sheer awe.

35. Future Star

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
At home.

My son’s feet… on a whim I stick my camera lens under the chair and see this in the view finder. You never know what you’ll discover when you stretch yourself out of your comfort zone!

36. Sandy Spotlight

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Silver Sands Beach in Milford, CT.

I processed this photo quite a bit to pull out those sun rays. I like the contrast between the texture in the sand and the softness of the sky. And, then the sun rays….

37. Hats

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Springfield, MA.

I’m at a big statewide fair.

38. Rock Listening

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
San Diego, CA.

I remember the day as really warm. This person is wearing a thick-looking coat. I’m wondering what she’s listening to.

39. Beach Coat

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
A black sand beach in Iceland.

The sand is made of volcanic ash. The black sand creates a striking contrast with the brightness of everything else around it.

Black and White Photography: 40 Images with my 40mm Manual Lens
Quiet.

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