For this exercise I had to choose a subject which I thought would look better in black and white than in colour.  I chose to set up a shot of my toaster on the kitchen work surface – I felt the chrome look would be more appealing in black and white and the tiles on the wall would provide a more interesting background; the differences in shade being more apparent than in colour.

I had my camera set to show the image in monochrome on the rear display, so I could see how the setup appeared in black and white.  This is how the image appeared in black and white:

"Absent" - Black and White, Version One.  ISO 200, f/11, 1s.

“Absent” – Black and White, Version One. ISO 200, f/11, 1s.

Here it is in colour:

"Absent" - Colour

“Absent” – Colour

While setting up I wasn’t quite happy with the light from the main kitchen light, so I switched on the under-cupboard lights.  They’re a tungsten-like colour, compared to the bright-white main lighting, but in black and white that’s not created any problems as white balance isn’t a factor.

Another thing that was apparent on the back of the camera was that the toast rack blended in to the background tiles, without the colour differential.  So, I shifted its position close to the plate.

I used a red plate and looking at it on the computer I’m not completed happy with it and the lack of contrast with the work surface.  Being black and white, I can adjust the plate fairly simply without harming the overall image quality.  I darkened the red and this was the resulting image:

"Absent" - Black and white - version two.

“Absent” – Black and white – version two.

As well as giving better balance to the image, it makes more of the reflection in the plate, I feel.


In this image I’ve had to consider how the colours will translate to tone and how they’ll play against each other; adjusting the composure and processing based on that interaction.  I think the shape of the objects becomes the main focus of the scene – rather than the colours; and that actually helps to eliminate unwanted and distracting elements; in particularly the kitchen door and camera reflection which is apparent in colour, but barely noticeable in black and white.