Black and White is a format that has long been celebrated in the world of photography. As there is no colour involved and only light and dark tones to work with, capturing an atmospheric photo somehow seems simpler, with less clutter and distraction for the viewer. In Black and White photography we rely heavily on the variety of tones, shapes, contrast, texture, and more importantly light to create a dynamic photo with plenty of mood. Thank you to all who entered - we had a staggering amount of entries and the standard was as high as ever.
In first place: Secret Sheep by Tim Riches
Tim talks us through his winning shot: I took this shot on the Isle of Lewis on a warm, sunny day when some of the local Hebridean sheep were resting together next to a Passing Place sign. The sun was very strong and angled to back-light the sheep fleeces, with most of their bodies in shade. They were all facing towards me apart from the one at the back. I used my telephoto lens at 300mm and spot metered the woolly highlights, shooting RAW in aperture priority mode - the exposure was 1/350s at f/8, ISO 200. In Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop I converted to black and white, dropped the shadow details, increased the contrast and cleaned-up the background to a deep black. The final image is mysterious and yet there's a familiarity about the animal outlines.
What did the judges think? The judges were immediately taken with Tim's striking sheep shot. The shot is beautifully crisp and the delicate highlights give this photo a unique abstract quality.
More of Tim's photos can be found on his website.
In second place: Jo Hopgood with this classic portrait
About the photo: I was at home using a Lastolite hilite backdrop turned the dark side round with a key light shining behind my subject. I used a Canon 5D with 24-105mm L lens, shutter speed of 1/125 and f4.0 aperture. I'd been wanting to try rim lighting for a while and my son is an awesome (and patient) model for me, very good at taking direction. My main focus was to get some detail in his eye.
Judges comments: Jo's captured her son beautifully with this classic B&W portrait - the lighting and composition is spot on.
More of Jo's work can be found on her Flickr page.
In third place: Simon Halstead with this long exposure
About the photo: The photo was taken at Carr Mill Dam, near St Helens. It is of a flooded water overflow which rarely floods but the recent wet weather had made the steps overflow. I am currently doing a 365 project where I take and publish one new photo every day for one year and this was my shot for one particular day. I originally set out to take a photo of the sun setting over the dam but the water cascading down the overflow caught my eye and I knew it would look good as a long exposure. I didn't have any ND filters with me so ended up settling on a small aperture to give me the long exposure. I luckily did have my tripod with me so I could keep the camera still. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the results on computer as I hadn't noticed the little swirls of water on the plateau at the bottom. The contrasty mono conversion really brings out the texture of the steps and the smoothness of the water.
Judges comments: We felt that Simon's unique shot stood out and fit the B&W theme perfectly - the soft highlights in the steps and the perfect balance of a long exposure but with incredible detail too constantly drew our eyes into the shot.
A few more of our favourites!
Sukhmanjit talks about 'The woman in Black, White & Red": This photograph was taken with the brief of 'Contrast' in mind - so the contrast of light and shadows, soft and bold eyes and a woman being photographed in a typically masculine look (bowler hat and tie).
You can catch more of Sukhmanjit's work on her Facebook page.
A bit about the photo: Archie was a one-time encounter on a walk in the highlands of Scotland and my mother and I got talking to his owner. I happily snapped away whilst he got my knees muddy, and for this shot he calmed down and I saw him cocking his head so I fired the shot. The simplicity of the shot and the textures/colouration of his fur lent themselves to being processed in black and white, so I did just that!
You can view more of Heather's work on her website.
Andy tells us more about his photo: This was a photo taken last year, of the remains of the flowers of a Hydrangea Normalis, showing why they are called 'Lacecaps'. Originally taken to try and highlight the frailty and intricacy of the complex structure with small DoF, this eventually led to this 1.3sec/f11 shot which was then processed with Picasa and probably a little GIMP :) Equipment used: Sony A700 with Tamron 60mm 1:1 Macro lens, with a Manfrotto 410 geared head to help with accurate focusing.
About the photo: This photo was taken at the river Adur just outside Shoreham-by-Sea.
You can view more of Agata's work on her website.
A few words about the shot: I had been waiting some time to get this location in fog to help achieve this image but who could resist heading here with snow on the ground!? Unfortunately the fog was too patchy to get the complete idea I had in mind, therefore I had to utilise Photoshop & Silver Efex II to complete the image. I used a Canon EOS 5D MK II, Canon 17-40mm, Lee 0.9 Grad ND Hard, exposure 0.8, aperture f/13, focal length 17mm and ISO 50.
You can view more of Jeremy's photos on his website.
Nigel Spencer tells us more: This shot was taken with a Canon 400D with Canon 90-300mm 4.5-5.6 lens plus lens extenders to get a more macro shot and a water sprayer to get the rain.
You can view more of Nigel's work on his website.
Peter tells us more: This photo was taken handheld with my trusty Leica M8 and Elmarit-M 28mm lens (1/90 at F2.8) at the Grotto Rydal Hall, Lake District. The conversion to B&W was with Silver Efex Pro2 after some initial tweaking in Lightroom.
The original version can be found on Peter's Flickr if you want to see the before and after :)
About the shot: This photo was taken in Powburn, Northumberland using a Nikon D300s and Sigma 70-200mm lens.
You can view more of Christopher's work on his website.
A big thank you and round of applause to everyone who entered and received a mention.
March Google+ Competition
If you missed the chance to enter then don't worry, our March competition is up and running with the theme "All Creatures Great & Small". The competition ends at midnight on Sunday 31st March. For more information on how to get involved, take a look at this post on the Wex Blog.
Our top 3 favourites will win…
1st Prize: £100 Wex Photographic Voucher
2nd Prize: £50 Wex Photographic Voucher
3rd Prize: £25 Wex Photographic Voucher