The Mara in Black and White

There is something special about black and white photography. Perhaps by removing the colours you remove distractions, forcing the viewer to focus on the contents of the picture and the story that it is attempting to portray?

Here are just a few of the black and white photographs I took in my first week at Elephant Pepper Camp, Kenya.

Enjoy…

One of my favourite pictures of this trip to the Mara. This is Scarface, one of the notorious males from the Marsh Pride. The black and white allows you to focus on his magnificent face and not be pulled away and distracted by colours.
One of my favourite pictures of this trip to the Mara. This is Scarface, one of the notorious males from the Marsh Pride. The black and white allows you to focus on his magnificent face and not be pulled away and distracted by colours.
A single wildebeest at full stride through the long grass. In amongst all the madness that is the migration it is actually quite rare to have a single wildebest
A single wildebeest at full stride through the long grass. In amongst all the madness that is the migration it is actually quite rare to have a single wildebest
A male lion at full march.
A male lion at full march.
For interest sake I decided to insert the RAW image of what I actually photographed. I over-exposed and made the image light as I knew that in the post I would be able to gain more information/data that way and would simply be able to crush the blacks and up the contrast.
For interest sake I decided to insert the RAW image of what I actually photographed. I over-exposed and made the image light as I knew that in the post I would be able to gain more information/data that way and would simply be able to crush the blacks and up the contrast.
Lions make ideal subjects for black and white, especially as the manes allow one to play with texture.
Lions make ideal subjects for black and white, especially as the manes allow one to play with texture.
A lovely way to show the landscape.
A lovely way to show the landscape.
Here the weather was terrible, quite literally pouring with rain. I wanted to try and show the dramatic relationship between the lion and the rain and I thought black and white was the best way to achieve this.
Here the weather was terrible, quite literally pouring with rain. I wanted to try and show the dramatic relationship between the lion and the rain and I thought black and white was the best way to achieve this.
A young male leopard standing proud.
A young male leopard standing proud.
Leopard in the darkness...
Leopard in the darkness…
Terrible morning light actually allowed me to get some nice detail on this hippo.
Terrible morning light actually allowed me to get some nice detail on this hippo.
An unusual crop. Sometimes it is fun to crop the subject matter in a way you would not normally do.
An unusual crop. Sometimes it is fun to crop the subject matter in a way you would not normally do.
Contrast and texture on this magnificent elephant.
Contrast and texture on this magnificent elephant.
A hot air balloon floats silently over the Maasai Mara.
A hot air balloon floats silently over the Maasai Mara.

My 5 tips for shooting in black and white

1. Shoot in RAW

For many this may seem daunting or confusing, but RAW really does allow you to get the most out of your camera and gives you many more options when it comes to post-production. Of course shooting in JPEG doesn’t stop you shooting in black and white – but if it’s an option, give RAW a go.

2. Shoot in Colour

While most digital cameras offer you the option to shoot in Black and White (and can produce some reasonable results) you have more control over your end results if you have the colour data to work with in your conversion on your computer.

3. Low ISO

With black and white photography ‘noise’ and ‘grain’ are accentuated. Thus, it is important to shoot with as low ISO possible as possible. You can always add it later in your post production – but it’s harder to go the other way and take noise out.

4. When to Shoot

The wonderful thing about black and white photography is that it works well on dark and overcast days. Ironically, these are the days that those who shoot only in color sit at home complaining about the ‘poor light’. So next time you find yourself with a dark and gloomy day – shoot some black and white shots.

5. Composition

Remember that you are unable, in black and white photography, to use colour to lead the eye into or around your shot. This means you need to train yourself to look at shapes, tones and textures in your frame as points of interest. Pay particularly attention to shadows and highlights which will become a feature of your shot.

Written and photographed by Adam Bannister

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