APOY 2015 round 8: Shades of Grey

Please visit the APOY 2015 home page to find all the rules for entry, terms and conditions, the APOY ENTRY EMAIL ADDRESS and the disclaimers that must be copied and pasted into an email entry.

Entries must be received by midnight (UK time) on 1 November 2015

The final round of APOY 2015 is Shades of Grey – in other words, black & white images. Black & white has always proved popular, not just in APOY but in Amateur Photographer generally. When colour is removed from the equation, the rules of composition, framing and lighting shift their parameters and require the photographer (and viewer) to see the world in a vastly different way.

Shades of Grey

This image from 2014 entrant Iolanda Enrione shows how black & white can be used to crate mood, and reveal the complex textures and patterns of a scene

Many photographers who work exclusively in black & white maintain that colour is a distraction in a photograph. Remove it and the viewer is free to focus on the graphic elements of an image: angles, shapes, lines and textures. Light is the other key factor here. When black & white and atmospheric lighting combine, the power of an image can seem all-enveloping. Take a look back at some of the film noir movies produced in the mid-20th century to see how light and black & white can function as perfect partners. You would also do well to look at some of the greatest images of the masters of black & white photography, such as André Kertész, Bill Brandt, Michael Kenna and Sebastião Salgado.

This month’s prize

Win a dp3 Quattro compact camera and LVF-01 LCD viewfinder

Sigma dp3 Quattro

Sigma dp3 Quattro

This month’s winner will receive a Sigma dp3 Quattro and LVF-01 LCD viewfinder. The Sigma dp3 Quattro is a compact camera with a 39-million-pixel, APS-C-sized Foveon X3

CMOS sensor that outputs 5424×3616-pixel raw images at the highest resolution setting. The dp3 Quattro features a 50mm fixed lens (75mm equivalent) with a fast aperture of f/2.8, TRUE III image-processing engine, 3in, 920-000-dot TFT colour monitor, external hotshoe and raw-format shooting.

The Foveon sensor is similar to traditional colour film in that its multiple layer captures all the information that visible light transmits to produce incredible resolution, precise gradation, excellent realism and a 3D feel.


Sigma LVF-01 LCD Viewfinder

By attaching the LVF-01 to the LCD display of the dp3 Quattro, the LCD viewfinder cuts off outside light. It magnifies the LCD display 2.5x and allows you to easily check focusing.

That’s a total prize value of £1,079.99 for Round Eight.

We take a look at some tips and tricks to set you on your way to creating successful black & white images

Shades of Grey

Backlighting – Photo by Allan Castaneda


A general rule is always to keep the sun over your shoulder when shooting. Yet facing the light can create a striking atmosphere. This is particularly effective if you’re looking to achieve a silhouette. However, there are a number of ways to get a balanced exposure if that’s what you’re looking for. Using fill-in flash on your foreground interest is perhaps the easiest method. You could also take two exposures – one for the foreground and one for the backlight – and blend them.

Shades of Grey

HIgh Contrast – Photo by Dariusz Jasiulek

High Contrast

Choosing a high-contrast scene removes all nuances and pushes the greys of your image towards the black & white end of the spectrum. The results will be simple, yet striking, compositions that can at times push the image into the realm of abstract. The thing to remember is to ensure that your subject has a striking enough shape and outline to warrant being represented as a silhouette.

Shades of Grey

Textures – Photo by Richard Krchnak


When colour is removed, a scene can look flat if there’s nothing of interest within the frame. Since you can’t rely on bold colours for impact, you could always try incorporating textures and patterns into your image. Perhaps early morning light raking across a landscape takes your fancy. Or you could even try shooting a portrait in contrasty light to reveal textures in a wizened face. An abstract approach would also be ideal. Get in close or shoot reflections. Seek out bold shapes, lines and unusual viewpoints.

Shades of Grey

Visualisation – Photo by Pawel Pentlinowski


The world around us is full of colour, so when it comes to shooting in black & white it’s necessary to change tack and see in tones, rather than shades, of colour. Black & white is another way of interpreting the world we see. The key to producing great images is to think about how colour translates into tone. Think about the range of tones in the scene in front of you and the proportion of shadows and highlights. Pay careful attention to how these are rendered.

**Please visit the APOY 2015 home page to find all the rules for entry, terms and conditions, the APOY ENTRY EMAIL ADDRESS and the disclaimers that must be copied and pasted into an email entry.

Entries for APOY 2015 round 8: Shades of Grey must be received by midnight (UK time) on 1 November

APOY 2015