One of the consequences of using the mixed B&W/color workflow that I described a few posts ago is that when browsing through Adobe Bridge, you end up seeing both B&W and color versions of every picture. Viewing everything doubled, side by side, is oddly informative.
Both forms have a flatness, but also a sort of dimensionality that’s unique to each. Both are flat, yet both are different. I’ve not made my mind up about the real dynamics of one or the other of the effects but they’re… interesting.
Sadly my interest in these choices has been stomped on a bit, with the unfortunate theft of my 5D (and a 28mm ƒ/1.8) a couple of days ago. I still have my LX1 to continue as my RAW-making digi of choice, and I’ve been running the new Kodak Portras through the Bronica while I fume and decide what to do now that I’m dSLR-less. There are some projects that I needed that camera to continue on, that would have to mutate or die with out it.
On the plus side, it is giving me a wee boost to remember some lingering film-based projects-in-progress.
Shannon Ebner’s forum comments on Charlotte Cotton’s recent “Tip of the Tongue” article sent me to revisit Stephen Shore’s The Nature of Photographs. This is a slim — no, lean — book that should be available to anyone who wants to approach their picture-making and picture-appreciation in a thoughtful way. It is a remarkable book not only in its direct economy but also in that it so deliberately and successfully provokes you towards moments of personal insight and reflection as you are reading it.
Lenswork #69 arrived today, and as is so often the case, the cover was a photo of rocks — contrasty, windswept, Western rocks. Vasquez, Indian Head, Merrick Butte. The locations we’ve all had burned into our psyches as standard backdrops for John Ford and Tom Mix.
While these locations are dramatic in and of themselves, it’s hard not to compare each new photo of them with the work of Carleton Watkins et al – people who photographed these places (& on a grand scale) because the western landscape was unknown.
Today’s shooters photograph with the opposite intent: the same locations precisely because they’re well-known. When did this shift occur? The Kodak Brownie? Timothy O’Sullivan?
Right on the heels of the Conscientiously Gray list, both Jörg and Tim Atherton have cited this Charlotte Cotton essay on contemporary B&W photography, which in turn contains a fair number of interesting B&W links — and some great comments in the short but dense forum discussion on the right side of the page.