Everything looks right in black & white. Well, sometimes yes and sometimes no. It’s in the eye of the beholder.
Way back when photography was invented, they were probably already dreaming of a day when a photograph carried with it the same brilliant colors that existed in the “real world” Little did they know eventually black & white would be considered an art form in and of itself.
I am no stranger to black and white. The remnants of a b&w darkroom still live in my basement. I think I actually printed my final art (intended) b&w print in about 1983. I continued to make b&w prints for auto racing newspapers until 2002 but no art was intended or created during those years.
If Ansell Adams is the best known b&w image maker ever, well certainly John Sexton’s the best known since Ansell’s death. John was Ansell’s assistant. After Ansell died it was John who printed all of his fine art prints. John’s own work is now the stuff of legends and his imagery is as far as I know, all 4×5 b&w print film on silver gelatin papers. As is often the case when I publish the work of others on Earth Images, I have to take what I can get as far as the dimensions of the jpg that I share with you.
I came across Steve Gosling’s work featured in the current issue of Landscape Photography Magazine and was very impressed. He shoots color as well and his b&w is created in the digital format. He has a natural feel for monochromatic imagery
Hopefully photographers like John and Steve will continue to share with us their visions in black and white for as long as they create pictures.
There was a time when I did create b&w fine art imagery, although it now seems a hundred years ago. I shot mostly in the medium format although I did create some large format black & whites, and even a few 35mm. Like most of my film work, you’ll have to take my word, as years of moving from place to place put an end to any proof.
I made this image many years ago and it has floated back and forth between being monochrome and color. My original intentions was for it to be shown in color. I do the like the quality it carries in b&w. I worked carefully with contrast in this image. I lightened and darkened sections independent for each other. I have been the most happy with this b&w version. The image requires a lot of contrast, but no so much as to become harsh.
It is “extremely” unusual for me to convert an autumn image to black & white. The fall colors on those Aspen trees are outrageous and the intensity of the color, is one thing that draws me to autumn landscape photography. Just the same, there is something about the quality of the light in this image as it streams through fall those colors that makes it a nice b&w image. I do love the tree trunks of both Aspen and Birch minus the colors that reflect into the bark from surrounding objects. It seems pure in black & white.
I am also not big on black & white conversions of images that I have created in the colorful high desert red rock country of the American Southwest. Just the same, nothing ventured nothing gained.
The color version of this picture shows some fairly deep red in the nearest rock form. The distant rocks show little color as they are obscured by a spring rain in the valley.
Of all the images that I have shot in color with the intent to change to b&w, this one is my mostly successful. At least in the sense of whether people enjoy it or not. I was out photographing dragonflies and I turned to look at this tired and weathered old bridge which I have seen dozens of times before, and there it was in black & white. There was never a doubt.
Bonus shots in full color.
I did make a couple of images on 6/13/14. I was pleased to find a female Snapping Turtle along a roadside covering up her newly laid eggs. I was also pleased to have the company of a Blanding’s Turtle just a short time later. The Blanding’s was actually in the road. It was rescued by a wildlife expert and sent on its way on the other side of the road.
This is the first time that I did not get out of my car, use a variety of lenses and a tripod to photograph turtles. These were all made with a long telephoto, and of course I could not be choosy when it came to direction of light, and I could not back up for some story telling shots. The images below will not sit in my top 100 of turtle pictures, but I’ll keep them anyway.
There’s nothing like enjoying a wide variety of subjects and styles to always keep photography interesting.
Have a great day, Wayne