Back to basics

In Film, Inspiration
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I crave color after the subdued winter months with their neutral and grey tones. I’m a girl who loves pinks and greens, the deep blues of the sky, the lushness of the landscape that happens when we turn the corner from winter to spring.

So how is it that I’m writing a post about black and white images?  I often have to force myself to process a digital photo in black and white, or to choose black and white film over color. But when I do return to black and white, I’m reminded of how much I appreciate the shift; there’s a different feeling portrayed, an emphasis on form, texture, graphics. I love how black and white can bring clarity and calm when the same image might be overwhelming or less interesting if portrayed in color. Shooting this way brings me back to basics.

Over the past few months I rediscovered my love of shooting with Polaroid pack cameras, and I dove into my stash of black and white film. (Sadly the Fuji film that works so wonderfully in these old cameras is no longer being manufactured, so I shoot knowing that one day I’ll no longer have the black and white option.) I had such fun remembering the nuances of the cameras and film, and enjoying the surprise that awaited me each time I took a shot and peeled apart the print from the negative.

Somehow the imperfections in the prints make them more endearing to me. And knowing that they can’t be changed, that the outcome depends upon the choices I make on the spot (a little skill plus a lot of luck) helps to slow me down and keep me challenged.

Shack for web edit

Now I’m looking forward to spring and summer, where I can indulge my love of color that the months ahead will bring. But shooting black and white for a time has rekindled my desire to experiment, and reminds me that each season–and each way of shooting–has its own particular beauty.

~Leslie

10 Comments

  1. I’m the same with color. I have a deep appreciation others’ black and white photography, but have a hard time committing to 36 frames of b&w myself. But whenever I force myself to go through the exercise, I learn something and sometimes an image just screams to be shot in b&w – like those shadows of yours.

    • Thanks, Debbie! It’s interesting to think that at one time, shooting in color was not an option! For me, there are just some times that B&W really speaks to me, and the starkness of winter is one of those times.

  2. Hi Leslie:
    Really enjoyed reading this article. It just made me realize something. When I see a Black & White picture. I see / feel the emotion that is being conveyed in the photo. When I see a Color picture. I see the technical aspects of the photo. Why is that? any thoughts?

    • Hmm, Molly, that’s very interesting! I think B&W strips a lot away, so you really see the depth of what’s there…maybe that’s why you see/feel more emotion? Sometimes for me, color can be distracting from the subject matter (especially when the subject is a person); or maybe color just gives us an added element to analyze. Worth pondering!

  3. I love that seeing the world in different colours is associated with different seasons. And your vision in black and white is wonderful!

    • Thank you, Kirstin! I think the bare bones of winter allows me to see the structure of things more clearly; plus with very little color in the landscape, it’s sometimes refreshing to take a look at things in black & white.

    • Staci, you should! I just added a custom B&W setting to my Fuji X100s so I can give it a try next time I’m out and about.

  4. Great use of lines in all these black and white images. I love what you said about slowing down and embracing imperfections too, which to me, makes the process of art-making a continuous adventure.

    • Thank you, Nikki! Shooting film makes me much more aware of getting just the right subject, angle, light and so on.

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