Summer Photo Walk, July 8: B&W

I haven’t dipped into black and white photography in many years. In a technical sense, the images in this post are monochrome rather than B&W. There aren’t many pixels in these images that are truly black or white. With that aside, I should mention that I don’t tend toward precision. I’m the kind of person who thinks napkins are redundant if paper towels are on hand. When I write B&W, I really mean monochrome.

I used to do photo walks with my camera set to B&W, but then I read a digital photography tip that eroded my interest in it. It’s a tip that is so widespread that it meets the criteria of common knowledge I suppose: shoot in color and change to monochrome during post-processing. It’s simple to take color away but almost impossible to add it (with fidelity) to a monochrome image. I can see the wisdom of this practice. There’s the serendipity of colliding with the unusual. I wouldn’t want to miss a color picture of clowns training falcons in the wild, for instance.

The problem with this approach is that, for me at least, shooting in color tunes into a different way of seeing. I love highly saturated colors enriched further with morning or evening light. I just don’t have it in me to adopt a high-key, muted color style that is widespread on social media. When I take color photos, color is my highest priority. I don’t value light unless it deepens the color. I’ve tried flipping those images to monochrome while editing, but there’s not enough contrast left once the color is stripped away.

I’ve learned that I need to dial into a monochrome mode while I’m shooting if I want decent B&W images. Then my priority is light. A humble tree grabs my attention because it is lit in glory. I suppose B&W photography sharpens the fundamentals of the form: light and composition.

Shadows are deepest at the height of summer. It’s like the sun spills an inkwell in the shade.

Paper Mallards

For five years, my daughter and I lived in an apartment complex next to a pond that was home to dozens of mallard ducks. Looking back at that time, I so wish I’d taken more pictures of the ducks. I think I was paranoid that my neighbors would complain I was drifting too close to their patio doors with my camera. Our time there was so peaceful, and I didn’t want to disrupt it with conflicts, especially ones that were very avoidable.

There is no other place in town where the ducks visit so reliably. At the apartment pond, a few would stay all winter, keeping a quarter-acre circle of water fluid even in the dead of winter with their dabbling. It was there I learned that water in motion takes much longer to freeze.

In this post, I share one photo of the ducks from that era. The photo was originally in color, but the edit to black and white startled me in the best way. To my eyes, the loss of color makes the duck look as if they are made of paper and are floating on fluid glass.


This evening I discovered, where you can upload your photos and digitized artwork and create all sorts of items imprinted with your images. I think I may order a print of this one.

Light on Water


The light bouncing from the reservoir was so bright it laid bare the floaters in my eyes. This capture reminds me of getting a Bontempi organ for Christmas when I was child with a failed Dorothy Hamill haircut. On that organ, I picked out the melody to the alien signal from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It was rare escape from my usual tone deafness.

Stream Reflection, B&W


Like fading to a dream in an old film, wherein the heroine relives the day she stopped caring about her rivals . . . and in this resignation, she saw that the only rival who mattered was herself.

Gold Chair on Trash Day, B&W


This chair disappeared about an hour later, to the sound of a muffler scraping the road.