2786 – Seen And Not Seen II

When I first picked this title in “1007 – Seen And Not Seen“, I was talking about not primarily heeding what others do and instead pursuing what you feel is your reason for making what you call art.

Today I’m talking about something completely different, about Black and White.

Technically B&W photography was how photography began, and although there were early attempts at color technologies, nothing succeeded until way into the second half of the twentieth century, and even then color technology was complicated, not ready for the private darkroom, and results from the professional labs were not fit for artistic purposes, probably most of all in terms of control.

In some way the stigma stuck. Yes, William Eggleston finally managed to bring color back into the galleries and he was not the only one, but high quality color processes were still expensive and not practicable for the amateur photographer.

Digital photography in its current maturity changes all that and, even more important, our usage of images has changed as well. This year I have processed 230 images so far and uploaded them to Flickr and on my blog. This is out of 2160 images that have survived my initial editing. At least half of those 230 images I consider “good” or “interesting” according to my current definition of quality and interestingness, my current taste and the current level of my picturing and judgement abilities.

None I’ve printed.

The natural mode of my camera (as of almost all cameras today) is color and Olympus cameras are in fact famous for the quality of their color rendition. Still, at times I lust for the abstraction of B&W. It is no necessity any more, but today we also don’t need to “think in B&W” any more. With modern electronic viewfinders we are free to see B&W and compose in that mode. It is much more direct now.

I have dedicated a preset of my camera to B&W shooting, with one button bringing me temporarily back to color. My color preset is likewise set up. One press of a function button and I see and shoot temporarily in B&W.

I use an “Orange filter” mode as basis of my B&W settings. This is a close enough approximation of how I usually process B&W. In the end I through away the JPEG anyway, because custom processing in Lightroom gives me way more control and I do it regularly. But still, seeing the approximation in the viewfinder is incredibly useful.

Today’s images were seen in B&W and intended for B&W right from the beginning. There’ll be more of that.

The Song of the Day is “Seen And Not Seen” from the Talking Heads album “Remain In Light”. Hear it on YouTube.

2 thoughts on “2786 – Seen And Not Seen II”

  1. Those photos are so sharp and crisp, and the tones look so rich. Like you Andreas, I will set my camera to B&W at times. Many photographers I know don’t understand why I do that (“what if it looks better in colour?”, “if you shoot in colour at least you have a choice”) so it’s nice to see someone else who gets it as I do.

    The Eve Bar shot is a classic 🙂

    1. Thanks. Well, for me it’s really about seeing in B&W. Of course I shoot in RAW+JPEG as always and Lightroom just ignores the settings used to create the in-camera JPEG. Thus in Lightroom I see the images in color, and then I decide how I progress: using B&W as I’ve originally seen the image, or just staying in color. I really throw nothing away, I just sort of begin with an intention 🙂

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