Seeing the Lines in between the Greys
I have been experimenting with Black and White photography. Or at least with shades of non-colour. Greys, sepias, blacks, whites and shadows.
Black and White isn’t really so black and white, is it?!
The thing is, I don’t want to just change my camera settings to black and white setting, and assume that means what I take will be artistic. I want to learn about process, depth. I want to capture something or alter it to really look good. To make a photograph more interesting with what it is, not just because of what it is, if that makes sense. So I have been experimenting in one of my favourite editing programs. Drawing out the colour, darkening the contrast, playing with grey scale. Trying to do something more than just turning all my pics black and white. You know?
Remember before digital cameras, when we could buy a roll of black and white film? And maybe impress ourselves with the results of a day in a park? Or more likely, end up with a stack of neat colourless pics, and a couple that we were really proud of? There was something charming about that. But there is also something to it, when we put ourselves to purpose.
I guess I am trying to discover what it is that makes a good Black and White photograph? What makes it interesting? What makes it worth something more in grey scale than it would in colour? Maybe I am trying to create something that wows me as much as the work of photographers that I follow and admire! A bit of creativity with a side of ego boost.
What do you think is the difference between a coloured photo of a nice enough brown leaf, and a soft monochrome image? Softness, detail?
Sometimes I take a picture I think is going to be just awesome, but it isn’t. Sometimes a picture will not be clear. Like a fuzzy edge, or dull colour. Or the opposite. Too bright. Or just boring. A tree that looks really special when I am out walking, but on my computer later is just another tree.
But shifting the grey scale lets some of its detail show in a way that wouldn’t otherwise. Or just has a special feel to it. Maybe it is a way to make a photograph useful, appealing, even when it is erred.
The season of colour and light is upon us, and I aim to soak it in, capture it, share it out. But I am going to try to be a student of the shadows as well. And am open to suggestion and lessons as I go. I am still playing. And maybe that is the best part of this. A reason to focus on detail and always aim for better. A way to see beauty in the world around me that I would miss if I wasn’t looking in this way. To always keep playing.