My wife and I went on a walk the other evening but unlike most other walks I took my camera on this one. I usually leave it at home, but a there is a 100% chance that you are not going to get a good picture if you don’t have a camera. That is a scientific fact! So on my way out the door I grabbed it. My last blog post – De Young, a picture that was very impactful in black and white got me to thinking. It is so easy for all of us to see color because we can all see the orange of the sunset, the green grass and blue sky. Therefore it is understandably just as easy to shoot in color. It takes a real marked effort to shoot a scene for the absence of color. You have to look for shape and form and pattern and structure. Luckily composition is the same, so that is one less thing you have to account for. Honestly speaking, seeing in black and white is hard for me. I see what I see. I have not trained myself to look for it, but I am trying, and this particular walk was a step in the right direction. What helped me get the juices flowing was shooting patterns. Patterns are easy enough for me to pick up on. So, I looked for pattern. I found it almost immediately. I saw some bright yellow/orange pine cone looking things on a tree. I got in close, chose a shallow depth of field and fired off several shots. The limbs were blowing in the wind, so I had to exercise patience waiting for them to slow down enough to get the shot I was hoping for.
I thought to myself, “hey, this just might be crazy enough to work.” What else can I shoot for black and white? I looked down and saw a snail shell that was vacated of its owner. A snail is the quintessential Fibonacci equation, the “golden spiral,” I was definitely going to shoot that. I got down on the ground, (scraped my UV filters’ outer ring on the concrete, but hey, that is exactly why I put a filter on the front of my lens in the first place) and shot the subject as close as I could. I recomposed between shots, moving in and out and changing my angle to the subject.
SNAIL IN B&W
How much more “black and white” composure can you possible get than a snail shell? I wasn’t trying to top that black and white, but merely continue shooting for structure. I happened to be walking by a class for firefighters at the nearby college. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for firetrucks and firefighters. My uncle is a retired firefighter and as a very young boy I remember going to the station and dressing up in his boots and coat and mask and whatever else I could physically carry. I never could carry the tank. That was a little heavy for me, but from that experience I always have had a love for firetrucks, ESPECIALLY old ones. As luck would have it there was an old firetruck there at the college. I was determined to get a few photos of it, and hopefully something good enough that I could give to my uncle. The entire truck was replete with subjects to shoot. When I got into Lightroom I decided on this as my favorite. *Note to self, learn how to shoot shiny chrome without getting a reflection of yourself in it.
MEMENTO FOR UNCLE
The last shot of the day was a few hundred yards from my home. I saw a group of three mushrooms growing in the grass. After an hour and half shooting for black and white, it was quite easy for me to see the shape and I moved in knowing exactly how I wanted to shoot the subject. I fiddled with a few of the settings to expose for the bright white tops of the mushrooms and the darker grass. A successful learning day indeed. I now feel just slightly better and will continue to improve that aspect of my photography. I hope the next time you are out, you ditch the color and try to see things in shape and design. Throw it in black and white, you just might surprise yourself.
THREES A CROWD