why I’m experimenting with black & white photography

I’ve mentioned previously that a few of the benefits of this blog is that it drives me to improve my writing and photography. I like that. I also desire to do more than simply document the city. I want to reflect the city as I see it and to do that completely I need to also communicate emotion. This is why if you’ve followed me for a while you’ll notice that black & white photos have started popping up here and here and here.

Like many photographers, I appreciate the creative possibilities available through the black & white palette. The medium helps to tell a story. But, the city exists in color and frankly, I like color! Still, there’s more to say then showing the city only as it exists. So, recently I’ve begun experimenting with my images in the Vignettes series.

I liked the photo above from the moment I saw it. Looking at it in color my eye is naturally drawn to the pops of red then the light blue. In the color version I see the graffiti. The other elements become background players. Then I look at it in black & white…

graffiti bw

This is the image I chose to post this past weekend. Here, I see layers – a story of typography and time. I literally read more into this photo. Then, I see the lock which although dead center is not as noticeable in the color version. Why does the box, made obsolete by the digital payment kiosk standing next to it, have two locks? More so, why is the box still standing? Is it so wrong to graffiti a functionally obsolete object that the owner should have removed? Arguably, the graffiti potentially serves a public good, announcing to the distracted lot user, “Don’t put any money here, I’ve become street art!” The graffiti is an improvement.

man on bike color

I was waiting for my bus on the corner of 15th & Larimer in downtown during the evening rush when the guy on the yellow bicycle zoomed past. In this image, yellow is important. The lights on the bus look like a warning. I’ve ridden 15th Street out of downtown many times during rush hour and you must indeed proceed with caution. How much does the color of one’s bicycle matter? Clearly, that yellow frame is more visible in traffic than a darker color!

man on bike bw

The black & white version simply doesn’t do the experience justice. Color is essential in this instance. Noted.

woman on bike color

Finally, I took this image of a woman riding toward Larimer Street. My subject was the bicyclist, but the yellow bollard is fighting her for attention. In the black & white version the bollard recedes and my intended target is easier to notice…

woman on bike bw

So, what can you expect in my images moving forward; black & white or color photographs? Well, the answer for now is both and I’ll see how that goes. Who knows, I might transcend into a moody black & white phase for a while and then follow that up with retro, Technicolor moment. Point being, the message matters. I just want to tell the best story.

Which do you prefer? Color or black & white or both?

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