Colorless appeal

August 30, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I've been ignoring the reason I blog here for quite some time.  Been too interested in simply putting images up on my other blog.  But here is where the rest of the story comes out so I want to get back to talking about the images.

This is becoming one of my more favorite B&W images.

Details in light and darkDetails in light and darkDetails in light and dark

It's a crop of a larger composition and as I look at it I understand why I selected this version.  First, the details in the flower are very nice, with plenty of texture and dimensionality in such a bright object.  As a subject, it is balanced by the curve of leaves in the upper left, its brightness countered by the dark area the curve encircles.  That curve has a nice light on it, bringing out the edges of the leaves to display their shape and depth.  Both of these subjects, the flower and leaf curve, stand out against the darker, less detailed background.

When I saw this setting (around springtime at Heron Haven in Omaha), I liked the light/dark contrast and the arrangement of the subjects.  For me it constitutes one of those intimate landscapes I've been pursuing.

I usually expect to get this amount of dynamic range with B&W film so I was pleasantly surprised to find it is a digital image.  The capture contained enough information for post processing to bring out details in the light and dark areas I wanted.  I haven't printed this one yet because I'm concerned it will never look as good on paper as it does on the screen.  It would make a very nice large print, though.

Close behind on my list of B&W favorites is this image:

Organic architectureOrganic architectureOrganic architecture

This one was made intentionally to be infrared (special filter, long exposure, specific post-processing).  In addition to the typical IR cues, what I like about this one is the detail in the bright leaves in the center and in the shadow of the post above them.  The gradual change from very bright to deep shadow, all while displaying the details in each, is a very pleasing effect.  It's very close to what your eye would see standing there at the time.  To me a great photograph, especially B&W, looks so natural in all aspects that you start to forget it's a photograph.  Many of my images don't have this natural transition from dark to light and end up looking like a photograph posing as a natural scene.

Another aspect of this one is the vine curving along the surface of the pole, casting a shadow on the pole that looks like another vine.  I didn't notice this in the original composition but am glad it's part of the final scene.

I have to admit this image starting becoming a favorite as I was processing it.  The infrared image is hard to really see on the back of a camera, or even on a computer screen.  By that I mean it's hard to realize the potential until you work on it and bring out the IR nature.  I knew I'd exposed it well and had everything in focus, but once I saw how the tones were developing it really started to grow on me.

The lesson I'm learning is how B&W can elicit emotions about a composition.  Rid of the colors our brain is so used to seeing, the image seems to act on our perception in an alternate way, causing a reaction to an un-natural scene that is different than what we encounter all the time.  Not shocking or jarring, just odd enough to make us pause and consider.  Still not sure what I'm considering but it feels pleasing.


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