Thursday, 15 March 2018

Colour or Black and White?

Robin Wong was asking whether we present in black and white or colour. I had been pondering similarly as part a recent blog article - there I was looking at an old end of the line railway station, in some disrepair and it suited a vintage monochrome treatment because the weathered and worn pink roof tiles, patches of green, took away from the shape and the vintaginess of the presentation. Here's another one I like in monochrome.

Bicycle at Pulau Ketam
In the above scene, there is some light from the sky and the narrow street accentuates the chiaroscuro. There are flashes of bright red and other colours in the scene and these detract from the play of light, in my opinion.

I reckon part of this empathy to monochrome is having shot film, fondled the silver gelatin paper and gazed at the lustrous blacks that are quite different from modern inkjet black or screen rgb(0,0,0). There are heaps of new gen photographers who do black and white treatments digitally though, whether they went to Fine Art school or pressed my D-76 under their fingernails I don't know.

Black and White print can also be extremed - instead of a Tri-X or Agfapan patina, you can just move sliders in Lightroom to your heart's content, crushing detail.

There are times when colour definitely works.

Black Cat not in a Coalmine
Apple Girl
And then there is that purgatory where it is neither colourful nor truly monochromatic

Three 200 hp SuzukiMarines

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Revisiting The Then

There's an old saying "That was then but this is now..." or something to that effect. In the 1960s to 80s, the amateur photographer was simply that. There was no internet. Glossy magazines cost money and if you lived outside of the UK (Amateur Photographer) or US, disconnected from your environs and your life. Yes, there might be the odd Photographic Society and exhibition, a few people striving for ARPS or FRPS but the average amateur simply slung his rangefinder or SLR and just went taking photos of content that was interesting to himself . Photo Fine Art schools were for the privileged, not the broad masses and not in the country you lived in.

The camera you used was moderately priced. There would be a few grasping their Leica or Nikon but the average enthusiast would be using one of the middle class, Japanese makes - remember Petri, Miranda, Asahi Pentax, Minolta (before it fell into Konica), Cosina and so on. Some people used 120 size film not because they were artists, but because that type of camera wasn't out of the ordinary and they liked looking down at their belly button. Most were 35mm users - we didn't even call them full frame though there were cropped film sizes like 127 and 110.

Lenses might be original brand (in which case they would be the ubiquitous 50mm (plus/minus) or you could splurge on an additional heady 28mm f/2.8 at the wide or 135mm f/2.8 at the telephoto. You might walk around with the one lens because you didn't think of buying another. And if you bought extra lenses, they might not be tack sharp Carl Zeiss, they would be some Komuranon or similar. We didn't talk about bokeh because most things were blurred. We were just happy that anything turned out sharp and used f/8. We couldn't chimp. We certainly didn't mercilessly pixel peep at 1:1

What about technique? We knew about leading lines and.... that was about it. I don't remember that we used visual puns of juxtaposition. Things were pretty straightforward. Yes, I'll say it. It was all simpler then.

Now, whilst the rest of the world chases astrophotography, high dynamic range blending, high speed sync with TTL flash, super intelligent continuous autofocus tracking and high-speed burst rates on sports, there's nothing to stop you from slowing down, turning back the clock. It's all up to you.

Pengurus Stesen
Fisherman reeling in the Prosperity (Huat Huat)