Colour or Monochrome

August 14, 2014 § 2 Comments

When film (or plate) was the way to capture photographs, there were many many debates, just like there are now.  They didn’t debate sensor sizes, they debated film sizes (and that had so many I won’t even start on that), and just like many enthusiasts and professionals now debate colour vs monochrome, so it also went back then.

While there were specific films developed for both types back then, in the digital age we are pretty much guaranteed that the camera you buy, whether the one in your mobile phone, compact camera, mirrorless or DSLR camera, it will in all likelihood take the photos in colour, which you can then convert to monochrome (black and white, sepia, etc) in post-process, whether in-camera or in software on the PC.  This changed when Leica developed their Leica M Monochrom, it was the first major brand to produce a high-end digital camera that produced only black and white photographs, and rumor has it Sony is working on a black and white version of their RX 1.  I don’t want to get into a debate myself over the need or desire to have a camera that only shoots monochrome, I can only say that it is unlikely I would ever buy one myself, but that is probably only my wallet talking.

In the genre of Street Photography, there is usually a preference for black and white images, but there are many many great coloured Street Photographs out there, more than you’d think.  Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work in street photography was very definitive for the genre, and all his work was in black and white, he also experimented with coloured film but was never satisfied with the results; of course, he only had access to the types of film available then (the 1950s) and if you look back at coloured prints from those days you’d see the limitations of the coloured film of the time.  I dare say that if he had lived in a later era, he may have at least given the coloured films a chance.

When I first started taking photographs on a slightly more serious basis than just snapshots, I didn’t do much black and white processing, and even when I did, it was more for the novelty than because I knew why it should be done and to which photographs.  Now I do a lot more processing in black and white…

What have I learnt that changed my views?

I’ve learnt that not all photos look good in monochrome, the tonal range and subject matter is very important for an image to look good in monochrome.  Monochrome images tend to showcase textures, shapes and form better, and by removing colour from the image you are left with just the elements that make up the composition, and if those elements are not functioning correctly in the overall composition, it will feel off, or look cluttered.

When used correctly, colour will catch the eye and hold it, this works for some compositions, but for others, that same thing tends to shift the focus of the viewer from the overall composition and have them concentrate almost solely on one portion of the image.

I’m no expert, but this is how I see it; recently I took a few photographs of some Jhandi flags on the Kingston seashore, and I chose two that I liked, and I processed them quite differently, and primarily for the reasons stated above.

This one I chose colour, because the main subject and the focus of the image is the Jhandi flags themselves, the various colours chosen as they contrast with each other, the browns of the sand and the blues of the sky.

The second image I processed in black and white to articulate the relationship between the clouds in the sky with the sands on the ground, the change from dark to light in both the sky and the land as they meet at the horizon, the sharpness of the shadow from the midday sun, and the contrast between the flags on the pole so close to the viewer against what seems to be a smaller post in the distance to the left of the frame.

These are my decisions, they may quite well not be anyone else’s choice.


In the end, these are choices I make in how I express myself artistically now, it is not how I did it a few years ago, it may not be how I do it five years from now.

Click on the images to see them in their respective galleries.

2014 Deck – Week 12

August 13, 2014 § 2 Comments

For this week I actually had quite a few photos to choose from, mostly along the seawalls.  Fidal Bassier had invited me along to shoot with him, he was doing part of a photo-shoot for Miss Earth Guyana, Ms Stacy Ramcharran, and even though I was late getting there, I decided to stop anyway and see what was going on.

The talented team from Bravo Arts under the direction of Steve Bravo had already done an amazing job of the body paint etc., and Stacy’s entourage were well in attendance and assisting her with all the necessaries.

Fidal was setting up on a mound on the southern side of the National Park, the winds had picked up a bit and he asked me to help hold one soft-box in position while I was there…  but I’m a photographer, and I just couldn’t resist the urge to click the shutter button.

Whilst holding the soft-box in one hand (the wind was trying very hard to tug it out of position and out of my hands), I slung my backpack to the side and extracted the camera with one hand, the lens on the camera would have to work… it was the Sigma 10-20mm, so I suspected that cropping after was most likely.

I took only two photos, mainly because Fidal decided at that moment to switch locations, and by the time we had set up at the next spot, it was time for me to say adieu.  One photo I had cropped and sent to Stacy, she ended up using it as the Cover image for the official Facebook Page for Miss Earth Guyana 2014:

IMG_3953-2


The second one, I did not crop, it was the one I preferred, and I had decided since then that I would likely use it for the Deck project, so here it is:


Click on the image to see it in the Gallery along with other images from this year’s Deck Project

All-in-all, it was educational to watch these folks at work, and that I clicked the shutter twice, and got two photos that were usable, I feel good :-)

Bask

August 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

In going over older photographs, I usually have an easy time of picking out the ones I want to keep and those that I either will never use or would come back to later (eventually).

This one sort of nagged me.  I don’t think it’s a particularly great shot, but I kept going back to it, I decided yesterday to process it and see what developed, and although I still think it’s just a photo of a rock on the seashore, I’m partial to it.


Click on the photo to see it in the gallery along with others in the Black and White Collection.


Bask

Battered by the pounding waves
at times of high water,
stood upon as a refuge
from the swirling foam…
pinched by crabs as an anchor
from the pull of the receding waters,
Covered by shifting sands,
and uncovered by the waves,
ebb tide is past and
the waters are gone
basking in the warmth
of the sun, this fine dawn.


Noon

July 26, 2014 § 2 Comments

Most photographers will tell you that the worst time to go shooting outdoors is noon, with the midday sun directly overhead casting deep shadows on people’s faces, or flooding subjects with overhead light giving it very little dimension, this applies to landscapes as well… As Lady Luck would have it, that’s when I get to go outside… at midday, whether it’s to accompany Nikhil on his walk or leaving work on a Saturday… it’s the noon sun I usually have to shoot under.

This one is not the type of thing I normally do, but something about it caught my eye and I shot it… left it to percolate for almost a year, then went back to it with fresh eyes.

Not something that many may like, but here it is anyway :-)



Click on the image to see in the in Gallery with others from the Black and White Collection

2014 Deck – Week 11

July 24, 2014 § 2 Comments

This week’s photo is about Implied Motion.  OK, I lied, it’s a photo of a Jhandi flag at the Kingston seashore, but as it turns out it is one of those images that displays implied motion (at least for me)

Whenever we try to convey the idea of motion in a still photograph we usually do one of two things, we either have the main subject show motion blur with the background or rest of the scene in focus (such as light trails at night on the street, or a speeding cyclist, slightly blurred with the track sharply in focus)  or we do the reverse, with the main subject in focus but the background blurred (such as in panning shots, or a pedestrian in front of a speeding minibus – by “in front of” I mean with respect to the camera, not the business end of the minibus – although that would make a dramatic photo of a different sort).  :-)

Another method might be to blur everything, such as taking a photo from inside a moving vehicle, creating that “vortex” look (on a side note, using the zoom on the camera while standing still produces neat effects too)

Chrono Photography is also a neat trick used to convey motion, by capturing multiple instances of a moving subject and then layering them in your favourite photo software creates a good sense of the subjects path through the frame.

After babbling about all these ways to create a sense of motion in a still photo, I will just say that I used none of the above for this photo.

This photo is either serendipitous or pure photographer’s luck (hmm, maybe one has something to do with the other).  I had stepped out of my office intending to walk around a few blocks, upon looking up at the sky I notices the clouds in a lovely “blown” pattern, I decided to walk to the seawall instead.  I have taken many photos of the roundhouse before (and will probably take many more), I have also  taken many photos of Jhandi flags before (and will likely take many many more), but that day I saw the clouds in a dispersed pattern, a Jhandi flag blowing in the wind with the roundhouse as a backdrop, and I decided to compose and shoot it, I took a few exposures, then saw five birds flying from the roundhouse towards me… Serendipity!

I was also shooting with the Sigma 10-20 Ultra-wide lens on the camera, so I also got a bit of lens distortion at the edges that helped with the appearance of motion in the clouds toward the edges even more.

That’s a lot of preamble for one photo, but I hope I bored you enough that the photo is now more pleasing :-)



Canon EOS 60D  |  Sigma 10-20mm

1/250s, f/11, ISO 100  |  6°49’34” N 58°9’45” W


Click on the image to see it in the gallery along with other images from this year’s Deck Project

Perception

May 6, 2014 § 1 Comment

Lately, I’ve been very busy, although depending on your point-of-view I might also have been giving priorities to the “wrong” things; for my myself, I say I’ve been busy.

I tell people that I’ve been busy, so I haven’t updated this blog, and updated the Deck Project, they look at me askance and think I’m either lying or stretching the truth, but it’s a matter of perception I suppose.

Often, what we see in a photograph is also a matter of perception, this image is one I overlooked when choosing my photo for week 9 of the Deck Project this year; when I say “overlooked”, I mean that I did not see then the potential that I saw when going back through the images the second time.

I was looking at a photograph recently of what appeared to be a woman holding a young girl lying limp across her arms, I later realized that it was a young man in her arms, but the combination of dark hair and a dark material near the head gave the long hair I usually associate (firstly) with girls, the features of the youth were very smooth and “pretty”, and he was attired in a hospital gown, all adding together to skew my perception.

I’ve also been trying to look at scenes differently and change my perspective, also altering my perception of the scene itself.  Anyway, all of this preamble is just to introduce you tot he image that I had also titled “Perception” :-)


12:55 pm  |  Red filter  |  Canon 60D, Sigma 10-20mm lens

1/320s, f/11, ISO 100, 10mm  –  Processed in Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex


Click on the image to see it larger in the Black and White Gallery of the Collection.

2014 Deck – Week 10

March 27, 2014 § 2 Comments

Once called the Garden City, now laughingly referred to as the Garbage City, Georgetown was known for it’s tree-lined Avenues and streets, and the tree-lined canals and trenches that divided the wards of the city and provided drainage for a city that was built upon land reclaimed from the ocean, and sits six feet below sea-level.

Today many of those drainage canals have been filled in for pedestrian walkways (most notably those running north-south such as along High Street, Carmichael Street, Waterloo Street and Camp Street).   Many of the trees that lined the avenues, streets and canals have died (or been cut down) and have not been replaced.  For many of us, we still see the trees that line our streets as being numerous, but this was a much more verdant city, we see it in the old photos and paintings.

Some of the older trees remain and provide some shelter from the tropical sun that bathes our city daily, some are even large enough to help provide shelter from the sudden shower of rain that cools the land and washes away the surface dirt that blankets the city, mainly from our own daily activities.

Walking down the Avenues that are still lined with these sentinels, I often look up at the canopy of lace-like branches and leaves that provide a respite from the midday sun and often ponder on what might make a good composition.  I often take photos, but they just as often fail to live up to the ideals that reside in my mind’s eye.

Here’s a simplistic version that I favoured among the many that I took :-)



Lacy Leaves

Leaves and branches adorn the sky
An organic filigree
Earthen wrought and weather tempered
It’s not just a tree.

Intertwined and interlocking
like a spider’s gossamer
A lacy parasol that once was
the city’s glamour.


Click on the photo to see it in the Gallery.

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