Sunday, August 24, 2014

Published 1:58 PM by with 3 comments

Discovering the World Anew

One of the many things I love about black and white photography is its simplicity. It's easy for a viewer to understand the point of a composition because the picture is devoid of the distractions of color. By the same token, a photograph that is lacking in contrast, rich tone and/or texture can also fail miserably as a monochrome.

I like to strip places and things of their contemporary settings and create a timelessness in my black and white pictures. For me, it makes them feel otherworldly. Something else I've noticed is that close ups seem even more intimate than their color counterparts. There is an apparent quietness introduced into the frame that I don't feel otherwise. It's like a moment frozen inside a moment.

I saw this tree trunk while on a trail. Not sure what made the hole but the choice of black and white made the composition less cluttered.
Detail of an old train track reclaimed by Mother Nature
Searching for and shooting a successful black and white photograph is challenging. It forces me to see the world in tones rather than colors. It makes me notice shadows and their powerful language. Although light is the single most important thing in all types of photography, I think it's importance is arguably even more pronounced when working in a grayscale world. 

I use the right and left side of my brain equally when looking for a good black and white composition. While analysis and creativity don't always make for great roommates, they sometimes find common ground. I suppose this process is more like shooting film for me. With film photography, the number of shots on a roll is finite so I have to really think about each shot, like every shutter click really counts. Likewise, each digital black and white shot has an added weight.

I was drawn to the vertical lines, curves and texture of the sky. Cloudless skies don't do it for me but give me something like this and I'm in love

The cuves in this winding staircase reminded me of a seashell. Shot inside the Westport Lighthouse in Washington

With this new way of seeing, I have a greater sense of the world around me. I don't feel such an urgency to click, click, click and try to get the shot. Rather, the shot presents itself to me after careful scrutiny. I'm excited to continue down this road of discovery. 

Here are some more of my favorites...

These haystacks on Whidbey Island stood alone and stood out because of the surrounding fog. The receding lines give it a sense of scale and depth

I saw this on the way to Marymere Falls, near Lake Crescent in Washington. The Falls themselves worked better in color but I love how black and white totally transformed this scene into something magical
No mistaking who the star of this photograph is. A chipmunk was quite curious about what I was up to
This staircase in Salt Creek, Washington made for a good black and white capture. It has all the elements; texture, contrast, tonal range and a sense of mystery

What photographer can resist a decaying building? Lots of texture and interest and some remnants of the people who once lived here



Fred Wishnie said...

Wow! You really do magical things in monochrome.

dreamjosie said...

Love your amazing talent.

Steven Dempsey said...

Thank you Fred and Jo, that means a lot.