Monday, September 27, 2010


I love black and white photography. This is where I started; shooting with a old Nikon F camera and an older Nikkor 50mm lens on Kodak Tri-X film, developing negatives in the bathroom darkroom and trying to create good tonality and decent prints with a cheap enlarger. Didn’t always work out – surprise! Ansel Adams I wasn’t. More like Charles Addams with the flu and a dried up inkwell. But what a great way to learn the photographic process. It also gave me an appreciation for those who can create the tonality and balance that make for great BW images. There is something magical, even surreal, about BW photography. For me the mood, tones and textures of light and ability to focus attention with black and white has a power that color simply does not. Since we see in color, a monochromatic representation of the world changes everything. Without color to lean on, the focus is on structure, form and light. It also dramatically changes the relationship between the different picture elements. The challenge is to create artistic, compelling images using only grayscale tones. Which is why I love the process of digital black & white. In my TV production work I gravitate toward the editing part. That’s where everything comes together to create a cohesive whole. It’s the same creating still images. I shoot in color to use those colors for their grayscale tones, and love futzing with tonal compositions. It’s great fun trying to create compelling B&W images. After all, black and white is the historic habituĂ© of, quote, fine art photography, unquote. La-de-da.

This passageway is just outside the hotel I stayed at in Venice, Italy. I shot this scene several times with different light; seeing it as a B&W pretty much all the way. It was already somewhat moody and I liked the light spilling in from the left, giving emphasis to the rain wet cobblestones and some pop to the white door. I take a look at many of my shots in grayscale to see what might be possible. My favorite finishing tool for B&W conversion is Nik Silver Efx Pro , a PhotoShop plug-in with amazing controls – dodge and burn in the digital age. It changed my life! Oaky, not all my life. I’m not expecting delivery of a yacht on the French Rivera anytime soon. But still...

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