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.
The weather was gloomy today: deeply overcast skies with the threat of rain. The temperatures hovered in the low 40’s, but I ventured to my favorite local park, determined to conquer the challenge of capturing leaf season during cloudy weather.
I fiddled with some of the settings on my camera, dialing up the ISO and adjusting the white balance. I learned that there is more drama in low light than I suspected.
The season has definitely made its equivalent of a presidential pivot toward the more serious business of getting all the flora and fauna to prepare for winter. When I ventured out this morning, the temperature was just 37 degrees with very elusive light. I think I may have wasted most of the day’s meager portion of direct sunlight just driving to the park, which is just 20 minutes from my house.
I’m not keen on taking pictures on overcast days. I suppose I shouldn’t rely so heavily on the direct sun for my pictures, but my preference runs strongly to bright light, even if its shadows obscure some details. The clouds conquered the light early in my walk today. I tried my best with these conditions, but I keep thinking I’d like a “do over” on today’s walk.
As for the more positive aspects of this morning’s walk, I spotted a raccoon taking a dip in the park’s pond:
I also spotted this fallen tree that looks like it is ready to settle in for the proverbial long winter’s nap:
I’m hoping for a sunnier day tomorrow to capture more of the season’s color. We’re as close to the peak of leaf season as we’ll get this year.