Monday, August 6, 2012

Prism Break

The first kind of photography I learned to do all the way through, from taking the photos to developing the film to printing the pictures, was black-and-white photography, and for a while in college, when I had regular access to darkrooms, I was—maybe not obsessed—but certainly very taken by it. When I got into digital photography I felt I had to relearn how to use color in compositions.

Now I’m relearning how great it can be to leave color out.

I’d forgotten how much fun black-and-white photography is. I’d forgotten too how it lets you focus on texture and shape and portraiture and drama in a way that can occasionally get cluttered up by color.

For example, when photographing the howler monkey with her new(ish) baby, the absence of color helps me better frame their tender moments.

The absence of color makes the movements of the giant Pacific octopus, Pandora, as startling, sinuous, and striking as they are in real life.

It lets me enjoy the silky, liquid texture of a poison-dart frog without being distracted by its brilliant color.

I wish I could be more articulate, or more profound, but far more talented photographers than I have already done so. Suffice to say that it’s always nice to be reminded, yet again, that there are an infinite number of ways of seeing the world.

I recognize that not everyone responds to darkroom lights and fixative fumes as if they were memory- and perception-inducing madeleines. But have there been news ways in which you too have discovered the natural world?

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}

1 comment:

Anca said...

I re-discover the natural world through your photography. I never noticed the goose bumps on the poison-dart frog!

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