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Sometimes grain is beautiful

There is something about black and white or grey scale photos that I find simply delightful. Perhaps the increase in contrast, maybe the even skin tone.. I’m not sure what it is, but I have always been fascinated with bright black and whites.

In my mission to get the perfect composition and exposure in low light (with moving subjects) I have made a point to try and reduce noise in my captures. But through my various adjustments and settings I have noticed that in black and white portraits sometimes the grain brings the whole thing together in a beautiful smudge almost. It seems to loose detail in a way that compliments the subject and really brings the image to light.

In this image below you can see that the capture is pretty clear, we have catch lights reflecting in the eyes, we have split lighting (mostly) we have focus and clarity its a pretty photo abet some shadows cast by her hair and maybe some lighting adjustment.

Below you can see it converted to grey scale, whilst its still clear it brings about an almost melancholy feel, the skin resembles a Greek sculpture and the haze of the background compliments the now focal points in the picture (highlights are bright and shadows are more pronounced. To me, the below photo seems more striking and of better exposure than the original.

The best bit is almost the noise and grain in the photo!

Another example below the subject in colour, the image is slightly out of focus, we have catch lights and a smile, the lighting is good but you can see yesterdays birthday party face paint on the eyebrows.

But go and convert that to grey scale... and that lack of focus and grain in combination with the points I made in the first example just seem to make the image, the noise and the faults seem to evaporate in the beauty of the grain and haze.

So I guess this is me realising that there is a time and place for grain in photography when its used properly!!

This blog was originally posted to facebook and can be located here:

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