Black and White at Night

It’s often not recognized that photography at night can produce wonderful results in black and white. As is generally true with black and white, if color is important to an image, it will work no better at night than in the day. In other words, spectacularly colored star trails do not work in the absence of color. At night, black and white requires strong composition with considerable contrast between light and dark areas.

When you consider photographing at night in black and white, try to look for scenes that have a strong compositional appeal. In addition, the absence of color should add to the viewer’s appreciation of the scene. Someone looking at a black and white photo should think they know or feel something unusual about the scene presented. Perhaps there’s a sense that colors are more vivid than they would actually be if the photo were seen in color. Or maybe there’s an edge to the image that makes the viewer wonder about what they are seeing.

Wandering in the night, we are without the sense of clear sight that we usually rely upon. This causes many people to feel that they are adrift in a strange environment. Small noises can cause anxiety. Wind whistling through trees can sound like a howling gale. Phosphorescent eyes staring from a forest’s edge can be creepy. Black and white photos can pick up on this perceived anxiety, and produce images that are thought provoking and keep viewers on their toes.

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