Black and White Photography: The Waterfront in San Diego, California

Black and white photography is a great approach in bright sunlight. Hard light and shadows make textures pop and create all forms of structural interest.

I’ve been slowly learning how to create better black and white images. It does take patience.

In the Seaport Village, the sun hit this brick building at an oblique angle. The bricks and deck platform caught my eye.

I was here for work at the Convention center and had a chance to wander around the area during a small break. In the early morning, in the bright sunny walkways, I strolled through the little village shop placed in a cozy section of the waterfront area.

I carry a Sony mirrorless camera and only use a manual focus 40mm prime lens.  Because it was bright, I set my aperture to f8 to keep the images sharp and the depth-of-field (dof) enough that I don’t have to worry too much about using the focus ring too much as long as my subject is more than 9-15 feet away.

A simple dock with hard sunlight

I didn’t really have a plan of what I was looking for, except that I wanted to try and keep people out of the photos. If people are in my photos, they need to be doing interesting. That, and I’m surrounded by my colleagues and I’m quite sure they wouldn’t want to be in the random snaps I was taking.

A bit post processing was required to pull the reflections out of the water. No filters.

You might be able to see that in these photos here that I was looking for interesting compositions. A bit of foreground, some middle subject interest, and a generally unobtrusive background.

Some post processing added with a red filter to get the sky and clouds to be more interesting

In a few images I used a red-filter, which makes the clouds in the sky pop out. The added contrast works well in brighter images, but I find that I had to be careful when using filters otherwise certain subjects would become unrealistic, i.e., a sky that is darker than the ground during the day.

Juxtaposition of different architectural elements adds something different…. I love these jig-saw puzzle kind of images

If you’re creative with juxtaposition (the intended placement of objects in a real or perceived relationship), there are a lot of neat things you can photograph together that might otherwise not be interesting in isolation.

A minimalist approach works well in bright sunlight

Palm tress alone or with a contextual backdrop.

Kind of cliche, a road disappearing in the distance. This is on Coronado Island, San Diego.

Leading lines, vanishing points on the horizon, and all kinds of structural anomalies lend well to black and white photography approach, in my opinion. And, I love the challenge of finding these compositional puzzles in the everyday spaces that people just pass through without a second glance.

The only night image that I liked enough to keep in black and white. Night photography works better with color, I think

The night brings more challenges and opportunities for photography, especially with black and white images. I have many more photographs, but I am still deciding whether these should be brought back and presented in color.

Stay tuned as a process through more of my images, taken in the margins of a busy life on the road (or at home).

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