Wednesday, July 2, 2014

High school frame of mind

Some days, your eye just sees the same thing over and over.

Once upon a time, you had to use film to take a picture.  Film used to come in color and black and white.  Unfortunately, once you had put a roll of film in your camera, you had to use the whole thing if (for example) you had started a roll of color and then wanted to switch to black and white.  Unless you had money to burn (I didn't when I was in high school), you had to finish the whole roll to avoid feeling wasteful and rewinding (manually) a half used roll just to switch to a different format.

There once was a time when brides had to make up their minds between color or black and white film for their weddings.  And that's it! When the picture is taken, it's TAKEN.  No filters, no Photoshop, no click-a-button back and forth to debate color vs. B&W.  Once the image is burned onto those silver halides (and whatever the color equivalent is to silver halides), that's IT.  Those are your pictures. Deal with it.

All of this mattered because I (not sure about other people) had to use different parts of my brain to take pictures depending on the format.  It was like that summer I had to learn French: French only made sense because I would translate it into Italian first and THEN into English.  Sounds slow, but it worked.  I used color film from third grade until tenth grade, and then I used black and white exclusively for all of my school stuff (because color processing is highly complicated and not fit for high school).  But it's not good enough to just take black and white photos like they're color--you have to translate the image into Italian first and THEN into English.  Or something like that.

When you can't rely on color to do the heavy lifting for you, it means everything else has to be damn near perfect: texture, focus, brightness, and contrast.  (Brightness and contrast might be the same thing.)  God help you if you can't learn to see contrast in color and (in your imagination) translate it to black and white, decide if you like it, and THEN waste a whole shot on whatever your subject is.

All of this to say, I'm very badly out of practice shooting in black and white.  I'm so lazy now because I can take whatever shot I want, and if I randomly get lucky I can click a button and *boom* it's black and white.

I really liked this until I switched it to b&w and realized ... nothing is in focus.  See? color makes you think stuff is good when really it's crap.


B&W? greys are a little murky.

I liked how I could see the sky in the wine.

And that's it. Sometimes I miss film.  Especially developing it and making prints.  But oh well.

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