“Une Rose” by Yazmina-Michele de Gaye
In the spirit of our Black & White Photo Competition, which is still accepting submissions, I wanted to continue to spotlight black & white photos from our SP@Flickr Group. This week, I would like to share with you an extravagant close-up photo by Yazmina-Michele de Gaye. What you are looking at is an uncommon view of a rose. It is lit quite dramatically, which helps to create a Film-Noir style feel. Combined with the unique angle creates such an appealing photo.
Close-up photography is a great way to experiment with, and learn, black & white. Black & white is not very forgiving when it comes to exposures. Close-up photography is also unforgiving with exposures. Combine the two, and it trains you to learn how to expose properly in the camera with the least margin of error. In the case of Yazmina's photo, I will concede that there is a blown out area on the lower petal. Clearly, the shot isn't overexposed as a whole – not with the dark patches nearly surrounding the entire subject. However, when lighting a subject for close-up photography, artificial light falls off quickly over a very short distance. The solution: A dimmer light source and a slightly longer exposure. But let's look beyond that as Yazmina's photo is very nearly a perfect exposure. However, these are the types of complications that you can run into when shooting black & white, especially close-up.
So what do you look for when you're observing a black & white exposure? Texture. No matter how subtle, texture often comes through with much more definition than the color counterpart. Look for textures in the darker areas and in the brighter areas…if they start to wash out, your exposure needs some correction. Note the well-preserved texture on the top petal as well as the texture on the backdrop (a wall, perhaps?). When both the brighter and darker spots have well-preserved texture and you still have blown out areas, that's when you need to start looking at your light sources.
I would encourage you to follow Yazmina's example and explore close-up photography in black & white. It will teach you to identify and react to a narrow exposure window. It will also make you a better photographer.