As much as I like the spring colors popping up everywhere I’m really enjoying a pursuit of textures in this new landscape, and nothing says texture like B&W.
I’m sure part of it is that texture is all about details and the sharper the details the better the texture. It appeals to my perpetual striving for sharp images. What I’m finding out is the more I work on sharpness for the detail images the better my grand landscape images get, probably because I’m forcing myself to use the same techniques for both: use Live View and manual focus, put the camera on a sturdy tripod, use the mirror lock-up to reduce vibration, set the aperture at optimal for the lens and let the shutter speed fall where it wants (hence the sturdy tripod), and use lighting effectively to illuminate the details.
I’m also seeing where extreme contrasts are not always effective at conveying the details I want. The image above doesn’t actually have any deep blacks or brilliant whites and the key subjects (stones on the left, ripples on the right) have a narrower dynamic range than the overall picture. But there is enough contrast to show off the details and hopefully make you pay more attention to the subjects.
Not that everything needs to be crisp. Depth of field can help show off details in just the subject, leaving the other elements to complement it with their soft yet apparent details.
All of these images started out in color, but I found the colors distracted from the nature of the image I wanted to portray. Oddly for me, working more and more with B&W helps me learn how to bring better focus on the subjects of my color images, showing the viewer just what I want them to pay attention to in the end.
After going through many lenses over the past three years I feel the kit I have now really delivers on my expectations. I used to wonder why photographers were always talking about the plethora of lenses they had gone through and how many they had in their bag. Now I realize you really have to shoot through many lenses to find the ones that deliver what you’re seeing to the final image. Reading technical specifications and other people’s reviews can be helpful to sort for major aspects of lenses but really aren’t useful in the end. Like a good pair of shoes, you have to put them on and walk around a bit before learning whether they fit you or not.
Yeah, it can get expensive, but for me the value of seeing what I saw show up on the screen or on a print has been greater than the frustration I’ve felt in the past trying to create an image with a lens that would never live up to my expectations.