Reflections in Black and White

Hey everyone,

Thanks for all the comments (here and on Facebook) about my five recent articles on Door County Wisconsin. They were fun to write, in fact they almost wrote themselves with just a little help from the photos and me!

This week I’m sharing something different than my usual post with photos about a place or an event. The recent black and white challenges circulating on Facebook and the focus on black and white landscapes in the November issue of Outdoor Photography inspired me to challenge myself to think more about black and white photography. You see, I’ve always been more attracted to color both photographically and in life. Can’t explain why, I’ve tried but I just gravitate more naturally to color maybe because that’s what and how I see. I have some photography friends who don’t do anything but black and white, they might shoot digitally in color but always pre-visualize the image in black and white when shooting. They then convert to black and white during post processing. I can’t fault them, black and white has a more timeless look, in other words, the photograph could have been taken yesterday or years ago, viewers are focused on the subject rather than attracted by the colors. There’s also a “moodiness” that is created by showing the scene in black and white. In addition, the patterns, textures, and contrasting light sometimes show better in black and white than does a color photo of the same subject. Often when sharing photos with photography friends or workshop leaders, I hear the comment “have you thought about this photo as a black and white?” My response is often no but it’s certainly a good idea, they saw something in the photo that I didn’t! Or maybe I was seeing the possibilities in black and white but didn’t know it at the time.

Another cause for reflection, I received a message from WordPress, the site that hosts this blog, that this is my second anniversary with them. Two years and 109 posts including this one, a surprising track record for me, I’ve stuck with something for more than a couple of weeks or months. Now I have to work on some other parts of my life!

As I prepared for this post I scanned through some my archives looking for those that I’ve already converted to black and white and identified those that might look good in a black and white version. What follows are 24 photos in a few categories: people, landscape, architecture, and a miscellaneous couple. I could do a lot more after reviewing my photo catalog but I’ll spare you and do another b&w post in the future! So let’s get started with some landscape and nature photos. Another point before beginning, I selected photos from our many travels both far and near and from 2004 to the present time. I should also mention that some readers may have seen some of these photos in past blogs, at photo sharing sessions or in exhibits.

There are eight photos in the landscape and nature portfolio. by coincidence these photos were all taken when the sky was cloudy and overcast or during periods of fog.

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“Reflections” – Oregon Coast – 2015
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“Stacks” – Oregon Coast – 2015
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“Ice Sculpture” – Stoughton, Wisconsin – 2013
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“Van Gogh’s View” – Arles, France – 2013
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“A Ray of Light” – Hazen, North Dakota – 2013
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“Storm Coming!” – Medora, North Dakota – 2008
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“Warner Park” – Madison, Wisconsin – 2005
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“Volcan Turrilba” – Costa Rica – 2005

The next category is architecture including buildings and other structures. Some of these photos were taken inside of buildings while others were taken in direct sunlight to emphasize the shadows. In most of these photos, the lines and patterns become the focus of attention.

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“The Old Monastery” – Whitby, England – 2016
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“The Stairway” – Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin – 2013
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“Old Church” – Lochcarron, Highlands of Scotland – 2016
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“The North Pier” – Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin – 2017
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” The Farmers Elevator” –  Hazen, North Dakota – 2007
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“The Basilica” – Cartago, Costa Rica – 2006
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“Bay Bridge” – Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin – 2017

Next up are the people photos. Taking photos of people doing things in their natural environment is one of my favorite photo activities. The top photo shows well in color as the wall is yellow but the black and white version puts more emphasis on the shadows and textures.

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“Good Friday” – Trinidad, Cuba – 2016
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“See!” – Trinidad, Cuba – 2016
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“The Dance Studio” – Havana, Cuba – 2016
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“Grandma Rosario” – Near Trinidad, Cuba – 2016
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“Free Hugs” – State Street, Madison, Wisconsin – 2010
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“Busking” – Capitol Square, Madison, Wisconsin – 2016

This next photo has special meaning to me. As I was scanning through my photos, this black and white photo of my Dad popped out at me. I forgot that I had converted it to black and white during post processing but didn’t go any further or do anything with it because the background was overexposed. But with a little work and the use of a vignette, I think it does him justice. He passed a couple of years later after suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for a number of years.

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“Dad” – Underwood, North Dakota – 2010

To close out this post, here’s a couple of photos that are hard to categorize. The top photo is what I call a swoosh, moving the camera when the shutter is open. The other photo an old broken down organ at a historic site near Vicksburg. The light from a nearby window was perfect to expose the detail and contrast on the keys.

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“Swoosh!” – Madeline Island, Wisconsin – 2015
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“The Keys” – Vicksburg, Mississippi – 2015

So this is my reflection in black and white photographs. Let me know what you think, maybe I’ll be encouraged to do more.

Until next week, travel safe.

Tom

14 thoughts on “Reflections in Black and White

  1. B&W always brings out a more artistic nature and more subtle meaning to the subject.

    I’ve benefited from your being able to stick with this project and witness your developing themes.

    Liked by 2 people

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