The Play of Light and Shadow

With black and white photography obviously color is not available to show the distinction. So, a photographer like David Yarrow has to rely far more heavily on monochromatic differences, or visual textures to delineate shape, sense, imagery, and boundaries in a photograph. In David Yarrow’s opinion, as well as many other professional photographers, understanding the play of light and visual texture is fundamental to producing a good black and white photograph. Without that sense, a photographer is probably just creating mediocre mush that won’t stand out and instead confuses the eye painfully.

Landscape Tonality

For wide-ranging shots of landscapes, understanding how to produce clear edges and degrees of tonality makes a photograph stand out. People like Ansel Adams set the standard with his pictures of Yosemite and similar, and today David Yarrow continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible as a result. Again, color is not available, so one has to play with light to provide a distinction, as well as where there is a lack of light. In the absence of detail, darkness can be as much of a tool for edging, framing, and image production as being able to make out detail under illumination. The mind fills in the gaps where darkness exists if it is clear, distinct, and inferred by the detail that does appear. It’s a professional skill people like David Yarrow have mastered over the years, whether with a manual or digital camera.

People and Still Life

Shadowing can produce powerful influences on an image of a person or still life that would otherwise be as normal and mediocre as going to the grocery store. A lot depends on framing and placing the light in the context of attention focus while using darkness as the bulwark of boundaries around the lit object or person. The results, per David Yarrow, end up forcing the viewer to align with the image’s center of attention. They can’t stray away to the sides when the formula is executed correctly.

Life in Shades of Gray

Add in the softer adjustments of grays, hundreds of variations being possible, and one has the ability to either produce significant contrasts or waves of soft adjusting, like a blur of waves over time turned into a haze with a time delay shutter setting. This combination of light understanding and mechanical know-how is what makes photographers like David Yarrow stand out uniquely from the crowds. Anyone can point a camera; it takes a sharp, experienced eye to produce a magical black and white image of the quality David Yarrow produces consistently in his trade. This is the standard those in black and white photography should be aiming for. The image topic is not enough; it needs to evoke meaning from both visible and inference as well.