Alright in black & white

Taken with the Nikon P610.

Black & White
Let sleeping dogs lie.
Shoe repair.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
Wild dog in snow den.
The forgotten door.

This will be boring

Monday. -15F/-26C. Went for hearing test. No problem found. Nice, except it doesn’t deal with the tinnitus issue. I was kind of expecting this “null result”.

Tuesday. -30F/-34C. Not going to do anything. That lasted 15 minutes, until I had to go into town to get the neighbour’s grocery pick-up because their vehicle wouldn’t start. I was not expecting that.

Weather forecast says more of the same, maybe a little less brutal, for the next week. Egad.

Oh it’s too cold to take pictures, and not just because only a moron would take their gloves off in these temperatures. But here are some “leftovers” to look at.

Somebody is going Jeeping.
Snowflakes, the hard way.
Snowflakes, the hard way.
Snowflakes the easy way.
Flock away!
Ice cold moon.

Still no lens adapter, after more than a month. Apparently after it was handed over to Canada Post, they lost it. Or else it was stolen by a gang of International Lens Adapter Thieves. After all, it’s worth almost $10.

We still have no vaccine either. That’s worth a lot more, it seems.

Leftovers

Some odds and ends shots in black & white.

Fog, not smoke haze.
Downy woodpecker. This was colour, but the ‘blown out’ portion was a ridiculous mess of white, yellow, and green while the bird was pretty much B&W in shadow. Desaturation solved the problem.
Mushrooms are in bloom.
Vigilant robin.
Beached shoes.
Male varied thrush hunting seeds in the bushes.

The fine details

There are times when colour distracts from the image. When the subject is about shape, form, texture, lines – this is when monochrome works better. Here I present three images shot in colour and desaturated to black & white. These are “100%” views; cropped out of the full-size rendering not shrunk to fit. In fact I’ve gone with 2X the size I normally post in order to make the details more evident. On the other hand there’s only three pictures whereas usually I post six or eight. A bit of a ‘step up’ from my usual “professional snapshot” grade pictures.

The camera used is the amazing Nikon P610.

DSCN2218B

DSCN2213

DSCN2211

The Trestle Series

Jim Grey likes to take pictures of bridges. Who can blame him? They’re interesting from both an aesthetic and a historic point of view. He keeps making me think of all the bridges I’ve come across, or gone across, over many years and roads. One time when I’d looked at a train trestle he posted I got to thinking about the forgotten one in my hometown; a structure abandoned in a field from a long-removed train track. Remnants of that line were in evidence all over during the time of my childhood, mostly in the form of rails still embedded in the road whereas the rest of the tracks had long been taken up.

Anyway, I forgot about it shortly after seeing his pictures. If there’s one thing old age does it’s make it easy to forget. Besides, I would never be going back there again so I wouldn’t be getting any pictures of that trestle – even if I could hike to it. A small part of my mind (about all that’s left of it) wondered if I ever had? But no, even if so those images would be lost along with the thousands of others that disappeared.

Lately I’ve been going through the few old pictures I have found, and in a pure case of serendipitous Zen (or something) … well it’s unbelievable but there were some pictures of that old railroad trestle! These were on some Kodachrome slides, and they didn’t fare well. They are in B&W now because the colour was horrific and two of the images had severe light streak damage, which makes me think it’s another test roll from one of the 60+ 35mm cameras I’ve owned. They weren’t all winners.

The trestle itself was a stone structure built to carry the tracks over a small, permanent stream. It is way off the main highway – and was even further off before they put Rte. 63 through there. I doubt anyone else knows it’s there, not even whoever owns the land now.

trestle1

trestle2

trestle3

trestle4

(I don’t really know what that last bit is, but it was near the trestle.)

As you can see, it was a bit the worse for age and lack of maintenance even back then.

There are other stories connected with this trestle, the old rail line, and the days of my youth, but the amazing thing here is that I came across these few photos of it. There were a lot of relics of the past hanging around the area when I was young, and I didn’t think to photograph them then. Too late now. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, except for the sensation of angst that comes with it.

Colour or not colour; that is the question

It won’t surprise anyone who has read even some of my blogs that I have my own views on whether to shoot colour or monochrome. You may have heard me express the sentiment that I generally shoot colour and then desaturate if I think the image would look better in B&W. It gives more choice, I feel. Other people prefer to shoot monochrome in the camera, and that is their choice. I do it myself occasionally, if I think it’s what the picture calls for. I’d love to be rich enough to have a camera “dedicated” to each, but that’s not very likely to happen.

Let’s face it: if the camera makers made it easier to flip between the two we wouldn’t be having the discussion, because a simple flick of a switch would give us either colour or B&W in a moment. Instead we have to paw through menus and push buttons, which rather spoils the fun. I’d like to see a combined ISO/Colour dial with speeds of 50 (please bring that back; the sun does shine sometimes) to 800 (above that doesn’t gain you much but noise) and half in colour half in B&W or maybe even thirds for high colour and low colour and B&W. I don’t know; if someone pays me to work out the details I will, okay?

Anyway the subject today is how and why I choose between the two. To start with, we have the Work Truck:

For me the colour is a distraction here, mainly because of the background blues competing with the subject which is practically monochrome (sepia) all on its own. In B&W the crazing on the panel is more prominent, and you might notice some of the smaller details of the form (such as how it sags on one side) because you’re not looking at the wide tonal range. I tried this in low saturation colour and didn’t like it. Shifting it to sepia (basically the colour of the dirt on the truck) however, works. Possibly the best version:

TruckS

The background colours are no longer a distraction, and the monochrome aspect of the road dirt (the main point of the image) is emphasized. Although you could argue that the colour version puts the road dirt into vivid contrast with the rest of the scene.

Now let’s look at a picture which works either way:

In the colour version we see the nice brass of the candlestick as well as the red and green remains of previous candle wax in the base. The blue background complements all of it, including the shapely shadows. In the monochrome version the image becomes one of shape and texture, of which it has a lot. In fact you could say it’s more poetic as the snuffed candle contrasts with the long shadow of the daylight (side note: this is not early or late light, it’s just the very low sun angle we have at this time of year. It stopped me taking it direct-on because it glared back horribly. “Angle of reflection is equal to angle of incidence.”)  Now here’s two more versions, low colour and “sepia” (actually trying to match the brass tone of the holder), both of which “work” in my opinion:

If someone asked me to pick between the four I’d have a hard time of it. Perhaps I should do a large image with the four versions together, like Warhol? *LOL*

Now a picture which could only be in colour. If this were monochrome it would be gray on gray, as there wouldn’t be enough contrast to show the fine details. This basically is a picture of colour contrast:

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Brush Strokes In The Sky

Finally here’s an image that only works in B&W. I thought this when I planned the shot, and so took it in monochrome to begin with which is unusual for me:

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Lonely Bear

If this were in colour you would see the bright blue of the background cloth, the bright red of the bear’s scarf, and the contrasting browns of the bear itself. All of which would remove the sense of melancholy generated by the image of a teddy bear that’s been left behind for some reason.

We have a mixture of images from the two Kodaks in this series: the P850 is responsible for the candlestick and the bear, the V1003 took the truck and the sky (with some post-shoot help for its failing sensor).

Walkin’ Blues

Woke up this mornin’, feel ’round for my shoes

You know ’bout that baby? Got them ol’ walkin’ blues!

Woke up this mornin’, … an’ feel ’round for my shoes.*

Or “the camera as artist”.

WB100
Canon T100
WB610
Nikon P610
WB850
Kodak P850
WB1003
Kodak V1003

Four shots taken with four different cameras. Each set to shoot monochrome (not colour desaturated later) and on automatic to let the camera choose exposure. I tried to frame them all as close as possible with their widely different focal lengths, and shoot as quickly as possible to prevent severe light changes (natural lighting). The only processing was reducing image size from native (not the same on any of them) to 640 pixels wide.

Which do you think gives the best rendering?

Of course I could take any one of them and tweak the contrast, brightness, et cetera – but that isn’t the point of the exercise. I think one of the major failings of digital photography is too much reliance on processing and not enough concentrating on getting it right out of the camera. The manufacturers don’t help there, with the way they design the controls and bury things in menus. As it was none of these cameras has a simple switch for going between colour and monochrome; it’s in the menus for all of them. I understand Fuji makes several models with such a ‘film switch’ but they are pricey beyond reason for me.

Here’s what happens when you get “artsy” with it:

WBartsy
Lithography version

*”Walkin’ Blues” by Son House circa 1930.