A beautiful sky makes all the difference between a pretty travel photo one and a dull one. So what do you do when you’re in London (for the third time) and the weather still won’t cheer up?
Switch the photos to black and white.
I’ve been reading the Digital Photography School blog, after recently purchasing my first DSLR camera. My favourite article so far is about making the most of the weather during any shoot – as it turns out, rainy or overcame weather is great for capturing your subject in soft, diffused light rather than the harsh midday sun (another photo wrecker).
I dug up my old photos from a summer’s day in London, which I’ve hardly looked at since I took them in 2012. Despite the gloomy weather we spent most of the day, cold and wet, outdoors on a sightseeing tour bus. I was travelling on a day trip from Paris with new friends from my exchange and most of them had never been to London and wanted to see the major sites. Unfortunately, this meant 90% of my photos were taken outdoors and an ugly, white sky.
A white, featureless sky can be a real deal breaker for a good photograph.
So I started switching some to black and white – and loved the results! I didn’t change all the photos to B&W, but I chose a few and started cropping and tweaking until they were photos worth keeping.
Some perks of B&W photography
- Removing the distraction of colour, you can crop more intelligently to frame interesting shapes and textures in your photograph
- Awkward photos taken from a zooming bus can be chaotic, with too much going on. Taking it to black & white puts a focus on the major shapes and people in the photos
- I started noticing faces in the crowd I hadn’t noticed in colour, giving the photos more character
- Dull photos can become moody photos, capturing your destination much better
- The stark white sky is no longer stealing the spotlight in an otherwise colourful photo – your eyes focus on objects & people, not block colours
- The colours of London were pretty drab and not well-coordinated, creating pretty ordinary photos. Removing that ugly factor really helped
- I didn’t always need to go full B&W – sometimes fading the colours was enough to show signs of life, without clashing ugly colours
I used iPhoto to crop, adjust the shadows and highlights, contrast and rarely, the exposure. I know I can take better photos of London, but I’m pretty happy with what I’ve salvaged from a forgotten photo album. Breathing new life into travel photos makes me very happy!
PS – A sightseeing bus sounds boring, but it was a great way to see major sites in a very spread out city. I really liked taking photos from a greater height, giving me a better perspective of buildings and people.