Black And White Flower Photography
Of Veteran Combat Photographer Jacob Smith
I can honestly say that I have not produced a Black & White flower photograph since I first got in photography many moons ago. In fact, ever since those days I have produced a very small number of B&W images, but I do admire the botanical works of photographer Jacob Smith.

Jacob is an almost exclusive B&W shooter who has always been interested in photography from a young age. Back in the day, his father introduced him to the love of documentation of wars and the historical factor involved. Jacob's first professional experience with a camera was joining the Army Reserves as a Combat Photographer, where he spent nine years covering the war in Iraq from the very beginning in 2003 to the almost end in 2009.

Even to this day Jacob finds himself amazed with how much he has experienced in the few years documenting and creating works of art. He loves all aspects of photography and is always trying to find new and interesting ways to show his work, ranging from real world problems to beautiful abstract pieces.

It's Not Just A Color Image Minus The Color
It's not just any flower image that can also be just as stunning in a B&W image. There is more to making a great B&W image from a color digital capture than just simply turning it to gray scale.

As for Jacob Smith...
He shoots in Black & White in a Color World. Jacob comes from a family of professional artists whom have enriched him with the love of the arts. He tries to find the the visual integration of photojournalism and the complexities of art as well as entertain the eye of the casual viewer while bringing them into his perception of the world and reality.

Over time, Jacob has trained himself to actually see the world in Black & White as naturally as he does in color. As he approaches one of his flower subjects, he already envisions the conversion of what the world sees as color and what his world portrays in Black & White.

Jacobs favorite lens for flower photography is a Sigma 28mm, f/1.8 Macro lens... Yes, you read that correct, it is a fast 28mm with macro. He shoots with his Nikon DSLR in "Vivid" color mode and typically will under expose 3 stops. He prefers this method so that when when editing it enables the image to extra contrast and gritty while retaining all info from original image.

There are many occasions where Jacob will have to dodge & burn to get the exact shades of gray he is looking for. As in this image of the roses where he was so drawn to the vividness of the color but then in the conversion he wasn't quite so happy with it until he had dodged & burned to get the contrast and gray values he saw in color.

What Catches Jacob's Eye?
Being a Black & White Photographer, you train your brain to almost instantly convert colors to shades of gray in your mind. As Jacob goes about on a flower photography journey he is drawn to the light. He likes the way the light illuminates a flower or the area around one.

He also is very fond of red flowers since they can become many varied shades of gray. Unlike with white or yellow flowers which mostly have to be presented in very light shades. And with so much green usually in a flower scene, he has to reserve those shades of gray for the green and needs the vividness of reds or the starkness of whites to help add the depth to the image he seeks.

Jacob likes a very dynamic image with a deep rich shadow and a clean white highlight. Although sometimes he shoots in-camera-monochrome, it is hard to say that either way he captures works out better in all situations.

Jacob enjoys time with his darkroom methods of dodge & burn to help perfect the image he wants to present since the camera doesn't see things as dynamically as our eyes do. As Jacob frequently sees scenes with his eyes but then are dynamically too flat when converted into a monochrome tonal range.

One of the biggest factors I really like about Jacob's B&W Flowers is the fact he uses up the whole zone chart and yet doesn't present a flat looking image. I personally like a nice bright white point (zone 11) and a rich Black Point (zone 1). And Jacob's flower images are anything-but-flat looking.

See more of Jacob's Works on his FaceBook Page


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