A Series of B&W Images and Thoughts: Part 2

Continuing from my previous post on B&W images where I shared some thoughts about simplification, I’ll share some thoughts about another aspect I enjoy with B&W images, drama.  This image is of the bridge that crosses the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park and leads to one of the most beautiful sights you can imagine.  Grand Prismatic Spring is just down the boardwalk from here and draws visitors by the hoards during the day.  So much so that I didn’t even park when attempting to shoot here in the evening.  A few hours later under the full moon was quite a bit different.  Zero people.

The moonlight is incredibly bright and when diffused in the steam from hot springs, it appears nearly white.  The shadows of course fall to black so the contrast was already present in the scene.  The slight breeze was drifting the mist to the right, the river flows to the right, the bridge starts and leads to the right.  So why do your eyes go to the left first?  Human eyes are drawn to contrast and brightness so I used this to determine the composition.  There are a few more elements in this image to provide the necessary drama I was after.  Notice the parallel lines of the log in the river with the railings in the upper right corner?  Or the parallel lines of the bridge railings in the foreground and the hot spring?  Even the angle where the bridge turns matches the angle of the hot spring and drifting steam.  These are all necessary elements to complete this image without including anything else.

The final element in this image that ties it together (in my eyes) is the hot spring reflecting the moonlight and dividing the contrast between the upper left and lower right of the image.  I’m not convinced that the color version of this image achieves the feel I was after when I made this.   To me, B&W adds a bit of mystique, room for the viewer’s mind to paint and distinguishes the image from a photograph that documents what a place looks like.   I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts and I’m curious about your thoughts on B&W images as well.  We all see differently:)

Thank you for reading,



18 thoughts on “A Series of B&W Images and Thoughts: Part 2

  1. Your image stopped me short. Movement and stillness all in one frame. You sir, were under a special star (and Moon) that night. And you froze it for all of us to stare at. Thank you.
    Dan in Chicago


    • Good to hear from you Dan, I’ve been absent too long! Seeing the park at night without people around was special. It was so bright and so quiet. In a way it felt like the entire park was mine. Well, there was one other photographer there that I was with but that’s another post;) Hope all is well and I always appreciate your words.


  2. Pingback: A Series of B&W Images and Thoughts: Part 2 | psychosputnik

  3. Pingback: A Series of B&W Images and Thoughts: Part 3 | Eric E Photo

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