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.

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