A Black and White Adventure- The Struggle is Real

SAMSUNG CSC The most amazing thing about photography is that in the most subtlest of ways you can take a picture, change it, and get something entirely new. I also haven’t gone out and about exploring the high desert wilderness for some time now, so I don’t have any new adventures to share. Lately I have business with my couch since the World Cup started and I also am learning how to code this summer- its my Summer of Code. I am currently dabbling with HTML, Java, and C. There is something amazing about the challenge of creating algorithms that solve problems. Even though it seems impossible the struggle is sweet, the pay-off is finding the best possible way to code a solution so that you can account for human error. As a mentee would say to me- “the struggle is real.” SAMSUNG CSC

But like photography, where the slightest change in light produces a breathtaking shot where one didn’t exist just moments before, coding requires finesse that is subtle. In that way I would say that photography and coding is very much like poetry, all of them share the creative, the artistic.

Here is the deepest secret nobody knows. Here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud And the sky of the sky of a tree called life; Which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide. And this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart. I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart. ~E.E. Cummings

I had this E.E. Cummings piece in mind as I set about playing with black and white settings. I wanted to capture that natural portrait that carried the heart of the subject I took pictures of.  Then I played with some of the settings to sharpen the contrast, smooth out the light, basically create a “mood” that captured Cummings sentiment of “carrying [their] heart…in my heart.” I don’t know what the technical term is for that but I felt that “mood” describes what I was trying to change about the picture. SAMSUNG CSC

In working with the digital stuff, I got the sense that I was romanticizing or creating nostalgia. Another thing about Black and White photography is that unlike color which relies on the contrasts or the glitter, B&W is focused on the composition of the picture, its about the light, capturing the details and the expressions. In B&W photography the wrinkles tell more stories then the clothes someone is wearing. I don’t think people would look twice at a persons wrinkles if they are wearing something bright and colorful, detailed and gorgeous. The clothing distracts from the underlying story, but in B&W photography that underlying story is the main drama.

Another aspect of black and white photography is the context of the picture, the viewer has to rely on it to better appreciate the picture. In fact, black and white photography when done right requires the viewer to be patient and look at the details to truly comprehend the images impact. Some of the most breathtaking black and white photography I have encountered were by Ansel Adams, his landscapes are just stunning and captures places in the High Sierra without relying on the color, which that area doesn’t lack! I don’t know what it is but black and white photography elicits that sort of reflection from me.

But you’re probably wondering how I am going about taking B&W photos when I am just digitally enhancing colored photos- you’re right, I am cheating. I actually haven’t taken B&W pictures yet. I have only digitally played around with photo in post-production. But doing this post, I was inspired to give it a try, largely because in working with post production on several photo’s I got a chance to gauge what pictures worked really well in black and white and which ones did not. That understanding is shaping how I want to go about gaining that technical photography skill. SAMSUNG CSC

I hope you liked the re-mastered pictures, two of them are actually new, the one with my cousin, Omer (above) and the first picture of my second cousin, Jibran; which were both taken on the “Rent-a-Kid Weekend.” The middle two with my Mom are both pictures I shared in the “Portraits- Fake and Flattering” post.

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