Friday, May 6, 2011

Black and White

The first few rolls of film I shot with my first camera,  a Canon AE-1 that weighed as much as a VW, were black and white.  Digital cameras can be set for black and white.  However, one can also use software (Aperture 3 in my case) to change color to b&w or sepia.  I use the latter option.  Some photos are OK in color but much more interesting in b&w.  Texture, shadow, light and ambience are all different and oftentimes more apparent in b&w than color.

Is digital manipulation of photographs “legitimate?”  About a year ago a friend and I went to the National Gallery.  We stumbled across Ansel Adams’ famous print of Bridal Falls in (I think) Yellowstone.  Magnificent photo of a thin waterfall on a steep fall.  Everything is stark black and white, almost incandescent.  What a surprise to see a print from the original negative.  It looked as if Fred and Ethel took it with an old Brownie Starflash while traveling with Lucy and Ricky.  It was shades of gray and as forgettable as every other bad tourist stop and snap photo ever taken.  However, Adams used a specific paper as well as burning and dodging and other techniques to create a masterpiece.  There was an epiphany in that experience.  “Photoshop” has always existed.  The only difference is that now it is computerized. 

The first is the rising full moon on the Feast of St. Joseph at Sevenhill.  The setting sun was still hitting the trunks of the trees giving them that white glow.

The pinecones had me humming Christmas carols all evening.  This one, taken one evening, is dodged, burned, contrasted and everything else.

 I took this sunrise very early in the retreat while walking along a road between the church and the vineyards. 

At the other end of the day is sunset in the pasture and small forested area up behind the church.  This was prime looking for kangaroo area though all of my luck was way on the other side of the vineyard.

This was taken along the Riesling Trail early one morning. I wasn’t lying prone to get this shot.  The road is at least 14 feet below the surface.

A bit of software manipulation and these tires now say something.

The beach at Warrnambool.  A bit of dodging, a bit of burning and a touch of increased contrast and voila!

This last is not a tinted black and white but a silhouette in color at dusk.  I was walking back to the house after dinner one night and saw these birds sitting in the tree.  They remind me either of a pair of synchronized swimmers getting ready to dive in or Bing and Danny singing “Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters.”  
+Fr. Jack, SJ

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