Light and dark – and nothing else

Winter was late coming to this part of Wisconsin, at least the visible part that I enjoy – snow.  Finally we did get some coverage which has been refreshed periodically to ensure whiteness is a part of our days.  Won’t be long with us, however, as the daylight is getting longer.  Just about the right time of year to find some afternoon lighting and shadow compositions.

Looking back at myself

Wind whipped statue

Infrared – waiting for spring

Infrared – trails lead to shelter

The more I work with black-and-white the more I appreciate reasons given for designating it as the “art” of photography.  I converted all these images from color to B&W, and then started working on the exposure, tones and contrasts I wanted in order to portray the scene.  Once the color was gone I literally forgot about it.  My attention was on getting separation between the light and dark part of the the image, making sure the edges of objects stand out against the background, and that the elements in the image formed a complete composition as I wanted.  I was never worried about whether the sky was the right shade of blue, or if the snow was the correct shade of white.

I’ve never done much work using B&W film – it never appealed to me and I could never understand the thrall some people seemed to be held in by the mention of it.  Now I find it funny – as I learn to “see” as a photographer I understand how color does get in the way, how we’re seduced by it as Jay Maisel says.  B&W does make it easier to pay attention to the image and not the technology.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not giving up color.  I’ve still got a dozen rolls of Kodachrome in the freezer in case someone resurrects the means to process it!  In the meantime, with winter blanketing us and spring yet a promise, monochrome (in both real and infrared) is the filter I’m looking through.

Just wandering around

It’s been a slow winter in this part of Wisconsin, by which I mean the snow has been infrequent and thin.  Only recently did we get what I consider a normal amount falling, and it’s still around after a few days.  Almost like winter is rushing to catch up before the longer days push it off stage.

Along with the snow there’s actually sunlight beyond just a few minutes.  I took the time to walk around the neighborhood and see what’s interesting.


Other Places

You make enough images and eventually even a high capacity hard drive gets full.  I was swapping out one of the internal drives on my computer for a new, empty one and thought I’d look through the images going offline.  I ran across this one in the RAW form and decided to work on it just to see something different than the current Wisconsin winter.

The scene is a cove on the east side of Lake Tahoe, right after sunrise.  I liked the diagonal line from rocks to trees, starting in the lower left and going upward to the right.  The mountains in the background make a nice horizontal cut through that diagonal.  I wish there had been some big puffy clouds in the sky but alas, just clear blue that day.

What I enjoyed about being in this place, and what kept me there for a couple of hours shooting, was the contrast of harsh, rocky shore with the smooth water and distant mountains.  Just enough wind to ripple the lake but not so much as to generate crashing waves.  About the only sound here were a couple of loons swimming around feeding.

Given human nature I’m sure every inch of Tahoe shore would be lake residences for the fortunate few but thanks to people looking ahead with the desire for anyone to encounter what I did that day it remains possible to capture and share such a peaceful and rugged landscape.


Monochrome patterns

Winter has been hesitant this season, creeping around a bit to poke at us now and then.  No white Christmas, hardly even freezing temperatures.  Very different from last year.  Here I am saving my B&W film for winter and all I’ve got is grey and shades of grey.

No more as of this weekend.  The Arctic is sharing a bit of the season with us as we’ll see single digit highs and finally – finally! – some snow.  Not only did we get a good covering (just about white everywhere) but the wind was constant from the west, piling up the snow and then moving it eastward.  Just like photography on the Plains – look for the interesting shapes on the surface.

And of course, opportunities to explore infrared as well.  Turns out pretty good, even when most of the trees have no foliage.


But here’s my question – how do people deal with all those tiny buttons on a DSLR while wearing enough gloves to keep hands warm?  Quite a dilemma – wear thin gloves to manipulate camera controls and get frostbite, or bundle up your hands but have just enough dexterity to press the shutter release (I’ve done the single lens challenge but the single setting one?)  Fortunately I’ve discovered the corners of my Hoodman loupe are just the right size to poke the buttons when I need to make changes to the menu or switch to Live View for manual focusing.  Good thing I don’t need to hold down two buttons at once!