Recently a well-known photography journalist posted about seeing in black and white. His early days were all Tri-X and so it became a reflex to automatically parse what he saw into a monochrome image. Once again my thoughts turned to the idea of shooting film again, but it didn’t last. It’s impractical these days and really, who has the time? But the notion of black and white stayed in the back of my head.
Flexibility is the key to having a successful photo outing. Most of us who are serious about it go out with a goal or a task in mind. Often we get what we came for, but what if the situation changes? For me it’s often the weather which affects light and that can sideswipe any fixed plan. When I hit nearby Ripley Creek the other day I had nebulous ideas for what I wanted to get, but really it was an excuse to go outside in October, I mean, can you blame me?
The first half hour featured sun and blue skies, but clouds moved in quickly and I had overcast conditions. Hm. Ripley Creek, muted light and swirling thoughts of black and white. I can work with that.
But what photographer in her right mind shoots black and white in the fall? With all that color bursting on every tree and shrub? A flexible photographer, that’s who.
Now I’ve visited Ripley Creek a few times, I’m really coming to know it and have started to go off trail to explore the opposite bank or just farther upstream. This time of year is easier for bushwhacking than in spring or high summer. And it’s less buggy!
One particular section has called to me in the past and you might find some of these boulders and cascades familiar, but this time I’ve focused on that log to the right to come up with a series of images that has cohesion yet lets each image stand on its own.
With all of the images, but especially these three I used basically the same processing inputs for all, only varying the amount of exposure to give them the same look. Lightroom makes this so easy! This way they group together better than if they were processed differently. To make a real triptych I think I’d have to have a contrasting image; one in portrait aspect or a more narrow slice of the waterway, or maybe even on in a different season. Interesting options.
And I guess I have to include an earlier photo that happens to have this same log in it. At the time I wasn’t aware of it like this time, but that I processed it in monochrome is interesting.
Knowing how I am, I’ll end up keeping an eye on that log through the years and if it shifts or changes substantially I’ll photograph what’s going on with it.
As I traveled upstream I had to hobble across an ankle-threatening boulder field that looked exactly like the creek bed does except with years worth of plants, branches and other debris filling the gaps between them. It was a little awkward and eventually it got too swampy to continue, but I’d still like to go further since it’s such a pretty brook. Maybe from the other bank.
Not everything I shot that day ended up in mono. Nope, one image I like in color although it does work in B&W, too. What do you think? Which do you prefer?
I like the color version — especially the moss on the rocks.
Thanks Pat. I love moss, too, and the intimate, enclosed feel the color version has. The mono feels more clinical, documentarian.