Black and White Window Lit Portrait, St. Petersburg, Russia

 A black and white window portrait of a young woman in St. Petersburg, RussiaCanon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 L series lens

This photo features a local guide I hired for a couple of days while I visited magnificent St. Petersburg. Russia is a pretty amazing place: the people, once you break through the language barrier, are wonderful, warm hearted folk; the landscape is hard, but beautiful; and the cities are fascinating mixture of imperial splendor, orthodox Christian iconography and reminders of old school USSR style communism. And St. Petersburg, known as the Venice of the North, has it all.

I wanted to make a few pics of my guide as a way of thanking her for doing her job well and helping me make photos. I noticed the soft, gentle light coming through the windows and simple asked her to sit there. A few frames later and the event was over. Literally 10 seconds and we were done.

Why Black and White?

The light from outside was cool blue in color. However, indoors there was an overhead incandescent (tungsten) light that was helping to fill in the shadows with a warm orange glow. The warm/cool color balance was, in fact, distracting. Converting the image into black and white on the desktop removed the problem, brought attention back to the face and maintained the mood I'd originally envisaged.

The secret to good photography is simplicity. And I'm glad the black and white rendering concentrates our attention on the mood I originally wanted to explore.

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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru