5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge – Days 2-5 – Asia Travel Series

In a previous post, I shared tips on black and white photography as part of the 5 Day Black and White Photo Challenge.  5 Days, 5 Black and White photos, nominating a different photographer each day.  In this blog post, I describe the techniques used to create each image.

Black and White Asia Travel Series

I decided to pick a theme for the black and white challenge.  It happens that I’ve recently been back from a trip to Hanoi, Vietnam.  Here are a few selections.

Day 2

The layers of toys form an almost orderly chaos.  They give lots of texture and add an incredible amount of interesting detail to the image without being distracting.  The light bulbs form natural centres of attention.  They have been darkened slightly so as not to create to many contending elements.  Even though there are a few points of attraction, this image really works for me because there is so much to explore.  The expressions on the women’s faces ironically convey a sense of timelessness as they wait for time to pass.

5 Day Monochrome Challenge Day 2 - Hanoi Toy Shop
Hanoi vendors wait patiently in their street front toy shops. Canon 6D @ f/4, 1/50s, ISO-1600. By Zhi Lee

Day 3

Shot from 105mm, more “tele-photo” than a regular portrait, this compresses the image in a way that makes the subject really stand out.  A sharper depth of field was chosen so that the canvas in the foreground wouldn’t have appeared too blurry, otherwise it would have been too distracting.

Water folk at Halong Bay, Hanoi.  By Zhi Lee
Water folk at Halong Bay, Hanoi. Canon 6D @ 6/6.3, 1/160s, ISO-100

Day 4

The light from the lamp naturally creates a lit up area of interest on and around the female worker.  Other parts of the image were darkened slightly, to create a centre of focus around the main subject.

Embroidery Halong Bay, Hanoi
Disabled workers respectfully earning their keep near Bat Trang Ceramic Village, Halong Bay, Hanoi. Canon 6D @ f/4, 1/100s/ ISO-2500. By Zhi Lee

Day 5

I’d say don’t be afraid of using high ISOs, especially if you’re using a full-frame, or even cropped sensor SLR.  This was shot handheld.  The lines created by the building adds a lot of interest to the image without the need for colour.

La Salle College of the Arts in Singapore. By Zhi Lee
The La Salle College of the Arts in Singapore. A fine campus that has won 3 international architectural awards. Canon 6D @ f/4, 1/25s, ISO-6400. By Zhi Lee

Day 1

Last but not least, the first image of the series.  The metal bars lead the viewer into the subject, which is placed on a third from the right.  Subjects placed on thirds have extra emphasis according to the rule of thirds.

A welder in Hanoi uses his hands as a screen. By Zhi Lee
A welder in Hanoi uses his hands as a screen. By Zhi Lee


  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D
  • Focal length: 58mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter speed: 1/50s

Related Images:

Zhi Lee

Award winning NZ wedding, travel and portrait photographer. Creating images for the enjoyment of others really gets me going. It is through photography that I get to connect with people and express a little bit of creativity.