Interesting weekend. I had given myself a personal challenge to go out and shoot in a way I had not done before, which is odd, because it was a way I used to shoot all the time. Bear with me; it's complicated. You see, ever since I started shooting with a digital camera -- going on close to 16 years now -- I had never set it up to shoot in black & white. With all the creative potential available in editing software, much more even now than back then, I began my long fascination with all things color. I could occasionally convert a color file to a black & white image, but it never started out that way. It just wasn't how I normally saw things.
And as I say, it was odd because for many, many years I was a dedicated black & white film shooter, wholly dedicated to all things Kodak and Edwal. The slow disappearance of high-silver papers and some of the great films coincided with the arrival of accessible digital photography, so the wheels were greased to speed my conversion. But again, oddly, a black & white ethos didn't come along for the ride. It was color, holding out her thumb and showing a little thigh, that I picked up right from the start. And she's only gotten better looking.
But the way modern digital cameras are designed nowadays is intriguing, and my little mirrorless is no exception. There were several ways to set it for a monochromatic jpeg, and I set mine to shoot as with a yellow filter, which is how I would most often go about shooting a fresh roll of film. I gamely set forth to wander the hills and valleys of southwest Portland, and landed up on the Lewis & Clark campus for a while, too. I was filled with doubts; this is, after all, the most colorful time of year in Portland. (Coward that I am, I kept my iPhone tucked into my front pocket, lest the color-panic became overwhelming. I make no pretense of photo-manliness). But I was able to force myself to look past all that and concentrate on contrasts and textures, forms and values. It brought back pleasant memories.
But truth be told, I missed the experience of black & white photography, the sickly sweet smell of the hypo, the slippery-slimey touch of Dektol on the fingers, the hypnotizing hum of the Thomas safelight. Or maybe I only remember the good parts: there's nothing more humbling than spending hours on a print only to see it irreparably stain in the toning bath.... ok, maybe I don't miss it all that much.
But nuts to all that. This was a fun project and I enjoyed the challenge. I'll do this more often; it can only help improve my skills and my mood. When you change the way you look at things, you can change what you see, and it's a beautiful world out there hiding behind that thin veneer of color. Besides, it's almost November, so it's pretty much going to be nothing but shades of gray around here anyway. It's why we drink so much coffee.