Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Black and White (and Patterns in Architecture)

16 May 2016


1. O'Hare Airport, Chicago; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

1. O’Hare Airport, Chicago, Illinois; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. First Floor, de Young Museum, San Francisco, California; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello

2. First Floor, de Young Museum, San Francisco, California; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello

Let me know which you prefer. Click on image to enlarge, which takes you to another page. If you decide to leave a comment, please return to this page.


Patterns are just one of the enticements that share a camaraderie between architecture and black-and-white photography. Elements in each collide playfully and seriously. As light bounces and weaves in and out of angles, forms, lines, textures, and tones, it becomes a sorcerer for the architect’s imagination and the photographer’s.

For the architect the site must be studied to determine the presence or absence of the day’s natural light. And then artificial light is added to the mixture. For the photographer the entire universe is a canvas, awaiting interpretation.

For decades my admiration for black-and-white photography has continued to escalate, and that adulation shapes my way of seeing. In my own work light indeed is a sage who clearly nudges my decision to take an image or not. And it is natural light that compels me to discover elements that can be best expressed in monochrome.

To imagine a subject without color is singularly difficult. Of course, some sightings will only work in technicolor. It takes practice, practice, practice to negate the color, and in the mind’s eye replace it with monochromatic shades and tints of black and white.

A sunny well-lit day is not the signifier of strong black-and-white scenes. Nor is a rain-swept vista in grey and whites. Neither may translate with a punch in black and white.

In truth even the image that seems to be “the one” can disappoint. Inevitably, those that in reality are perceived to be great candidates, are not. Some taken for the possibilities that visual appeal exists, might be the ones that are worthy. Instincts prevail, and yet they do not.

Graphic qualities, textures, shadows, negative and positive spaces pique my attention.  Dancing light carving and curving encourages my interest. And architecture is particular suited to these characteristics.

In the Lens section are two images taken on my recent trip to the West Coast. Each has qualities that make me stop, stare and still the moment. One is complex in character; the other simple and straightforward. Each has visual elements, especially patterns, that shore the reason black-and-white photography continues to be my inspiration.

Tip of the Week:

“Hélène Binet has emerged as one of the leading architectural photographers in the world. Every time Hélène Binet takes a photograph, she exposes architecture’s achievements, strength, pathos and fragility.” (Daniel Libeskind, Polish-American architect)

Swiss-French photographer Hélène Binet specializes in architectural photography that finds the unique within the unique. London-based Binet is known for some of the elements that push my creative edge: light, shadow and texture. Her images find those places and spaces that are intimate and tell a narrative about their architectural design and features. To read an article (“Dancing in the Dark: The Architectural Photography of Helene Binet,” 21 May 2013, by Matt McCann) from The New York Times’ column “Lens: Photography, Video and Visual Journalism,” click here. Binet is known to photograph the old and the new, and uses that work to honor two remarkable human inventions: architecture and photography.

The Architecture of Zaha Hadid and captured by Helen Binet, 2009

“The Architecture of Zaha Hadid,” captured by Helene Binet, 2009, courtesy of Gabriele Amman Gallery, Cologne

View other entries for this week’s challenge:


As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog. My photographs for the mobile photography challenge are taken with an iPhone 6.

If you’d like to join this Mobile Photography Challenge, please click here for details and history of the challenge. If you have any questions, please contact me. Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming challenges:

1st Monday: Nature.

2nd Monday: Macro.

3rd Monday: Black and White.

4th Monday Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Animals, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Objects, Panorama, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).

5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week.

This entry was posted in Black-and-White Photography, Design, Human Nature, Mobile Photography, Photography, Traveling and Travels, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Black and White (and Patterns in Architecture)

  1. I find that O’Hare is a little bit better light balanced.

  2. Great photos, Sally. Vibrant (#1) versus serene (#2)!

  3. pattimoed says:

    Gorgeous b & w images, Sally. I love them both. The interplay of light and shadow is wonderful.

  4. Su Leslie says:

    I so love the second image. There is such purity of light and shade; I want to be there!

  5. phoartetry says:

    Ummm, I like each photograph equally. The first one has great perspective with many leading lines giving you a feeling of depth, as well as fabulous tone values. It reminds me of a pen and ink drawing or graphite drawing that I use to do in my college days.

    The second one has a softer quality, yet still conveys a wonderful perspective and angles that draws one’s eye into the image. It has somewhat a surreal quality.

    Excellent eye you have Sally for photograph.


  6. Tiny says:

    I love the second image! And that is because it is calm and showcases light as well as lines wonderfully.

  7. Nato says:

    I like the second’s light “boxes.” It is like they are leading you to the people in the shadows.

  8. The second photograph looks quite different after enlargement reveals details like the man at the end of the corridor and the natural world beyond the windows.

    • Steve, yes, I wonder how many people did not get to see the guard and his reflection, which is part of what drew me to the image. Also the textures of the outside garden were a draw too. Thanks so much.

  9. I love them both Sally but if I have to choose I would lean towards the second image as its not as busy.

  10. IT is lovely how you have portrayed Chicago airport. When you are there in the hustle and bustle, you miss all of this.

    • Laurie, I always have to stop to appreciate the way in which airports have been transformed into places of aesthetic appeal. It also helps to have a few hours to meander. Thanks so much.

  11. Aquileana says:

    “For the architect the site must be studied to determine the presence or absence of the day’s natural light. And then artificial light is added to the mixture. For the photographer the entire universe is a canvas, awaiting interpretation”.–
    Excellent statement… I will choose the first pic… stunning use of black and white along perspective and shades… very nice, my friend… wishing you a good week. Aquileana 😀

  12. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Two wonderful B & W examples this week, Sally. I love the graphic quality of the patterns.

  13. I just love that first image. The use of light is amazing.

  14. Amy says:

    I like the structure and texture of the first one and the lighting capture of the second one. Well done!

  15. Jane Lurie says:

    Interesting post, Sally, and your images illustrate the point of what makes a good black and white conversion. Losing Zaha Hadid was a sad moment this year.

  16. Angeline M says:

    The first photo in the airport is fabulous! All the lines, light and shadow; the photo keeps the eye busy looking at all the wonderful elements.

  17. Phenomenal photographs … love them. 😎

  18. Didn’t even have to ponder this week, Sally: I love the first one. There’s so much going on in all directions and shapes that it’s dizzying, but so much fun. The second, which I like as well, is much more calm and peaceful, an excellent contrast.

    Have a spectacular week!


  19. Two very beautiful submissions. They are very moody and the geometric shapes are very interesting. Thank you.

  20. You discussion about what makes an interesting black and white photo is very interesting. I don’t think there is any specific characteristics that would predetermine whether or not a subject will translate well into black and white. It is so depending on the photographer’s vision and processing abilities. Thanks for the link to Hélène Binet.

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