It’s trite, I know

I had been thinking about doing this post to the point where I’d selected almost all the photos for it. There was some hesitancy because it’s such a “year end” thing to do and I find those rather annoying for the most part. Further to that I started seeing other people doing the same thing. Oh boy, it’s the legendary “Obligatory Marble Shot” situation all over again. Nevertheless and despite my own reservations I went ahead and constructed the post on December 17. Will it get published? Only time will tell. (If you’re reading this either it did or you have magical powers.)

Selections were made on three criteria; the technical quality, the artistic value, and the wholly subjective “because I like it” factor.

First up, two from the Kodak V1003, the cheapest camera in my arsenal:

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Yellow
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Vice

“Yellow” and “Vice” show how artistic you can be with a very simple camera. Something I like to demonstrate for the benefit of new photographers or those just looking to find their way.

Now two from the Kodak P850, as we move up in camera value:

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Candlestick Colour
WB850
Walkin’ Blues

Here we have the original colour version of the candlestick photo series and the P850’s rendition from the “Walkin’ Blues” series. The richness of this camera’s captures with its CCD sensor never ceases to amaze me.

Shifting up in price again to the Nikon P610. Oddly enough even though this is still my “main” camera I had a hard time choosing from its photos, because a lot of what I take with it is not done for artistic reasons.

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Hannibal
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Lonely Stranger

These two show the P610 at its artistic best, I think. “Hannibal” radiates warmth and fuzziness, just like the actual cat. “Lonely Stranger” is not only poignant but also personal, as it is a self-portrait. Usually the Nikon is shooting pictures of the moon or wildlife, because one of its main attributes is the fantastic zoom lens. I just didn’t think those pictures were top-of-the-class for technical or artistic merit.

Now for the most expensive camera, the Canon T100, we have a couple of shots that show for a camera that spends most of its time doing weird photographic experiments it can do some great art if given a chance.

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Broken
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Chimney

“Broken” is pure art gallery level snobbery, whereas the “Chimney” is serendipitous colour and form. Besides these I found quite a few taken with the T100 which were suitable, and narrowing it down was difficult. I had to somewhat suppress the “third criterion” to make the choices.

And while we’re on about the Canon’s experimental usage and my “because I like it” qualification, here’s two from the unlikely yet strangely successful Canon + Brownie experiment:

IMG_2131
Vase

This is actually a bad picture, speaking technically. Most of it is out of focus and where it is focused it isn’t sharp. The composition is random and purposeless. Yet I like it. Not just for the odd method used to make it, but because the whole is greater than the parts and it becomes an abstract of slightly blurred shape and colour which could probably hang in MOMA and sell for a million dollars in print form.

IMG_2135
Isetta

From the same experiment series, the Isetta image fails on technical merit and arguably is about as artistic as a mistaken shutter trip. Yet again, I like it. My whimsical nature gave it composition that would ordinarily be found only in a Madison Avenue advertising campaign, although I doubt they’d be accepting of the quality otherwise.

The main reason for all of these pictures remains the same: I’m having fun with my cameras. You should too.

 

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:

brushsky
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).