Friday, January 4, 2013

First Week of 52...Black & White

I've been really busy for the past few days and thought maybe I wouldn't have time to do my first of the 52's.  And even if I hadn't been on the run, there is just totally, absolutely, nothing going on anywhere around town in this let-down week after the holidays.  But then, thanks to the weather, I found my inspiration.

After the most gloriously beautiful New Year's day, the next two were so dreary, with dense chilling fog, the contrast couldn't have been more striking--which is what led me to explore something new...

A wee bit of back story before we carry on...

In the late 80s, early 90s, I was a fanatic about photography.  I never went anywhere without my camera; it was either in my pack, my purse, around my neck, or in my hand.  I still love this battered ol' thing more than any other camera I've owned.  It's probably gone more places than most people.  Just now, taking it out of the camera case, the solid weight of it in my hand gave me such a pang; it felt right, comfortable and true.  So many adventures, so many miles, so many great photos...

See what I mean? Time capsule photo.  Same camera, clutched in my hand, as I sit on the edge of the abyss.

I went through several photography phases: faces, architecture, landscapes--my Georgia O'Keeffe period actually made me some money--but after the exotic colors and textures of flowers, I did a complete reversal and went black & white.  Back then, there were no Photoshop programs, no digital cameras.  You bought black and white film, turned your brain upside down and visualized contrast, not color.  It was a hard skill to learn, but ultimately it was a very cool way to look at the world.  One of my favorite things was to get up early on a Sunday morning, grab my trusty Nikon, two rolls of b&w film and wander the streets of Seattle.  I got some amazing shots.

And now, finally, we come to the gist of this post, and the First of the 52's...

Wednesday afternoon, walking with the dogs to the mailbox, crap visibility, a familiar tree along our route came slowly out of the fog as we drew closer.  The ethereal contrast of dark limbs and trunk enveloped in dull, misty white transported me back in time when I roamed Seattle, in rain, fog, sunshine and shadow.  Suddenly, I knew what my first week's adventure was going to be.

I have a fairly new camera, a Canon SX40, maybe six months old.  I like it, though haven't worked out some of the kinks and tricks yet.  Back from the mailbox, I go through some of the camera's functions, and yes, there is a black and white mode.  (Yeah, I know, any photo can be turned into b&w with even the most basic photo program.  But that's not what I want).

To my mind, the shots I've taken over the past two days are nothing compared to the contrast that can be achieved with my old tried and true SLR and a roll of black and white film.  I believe I've sacrificed quality, though the trade-off is instant gratification.  Isn't that the definition of progress nowadays?

Anyway, here are my photos...

The tree that grew out of the fog and became the start of my first adventure:

The next morning, walking the dogs at the soccer field park, the gnarly, twisted branches of a tree caught my eye, so stark against the bleak sky:

I stood beneath another tree--huge and old--then leaned against the trunk and shot straight up into the boughs...

Home again, I saw this beautiful web, frozen between two rails of the fence next to the garage:

Then I discovered another function on my camera, Color Accent.  My Poinsettia has just one red bloom left, so I focused on the red and made the background b&w.  I tried to find other colors around the garden to experiment further, but it's January.  I'll give it another try in the Spring.

I took these last two side-by-side, one monochrome, the other color.  In this case, the color is by far the better shot.  That's the beauty of black and white: You truly have to shut off the color in your mind and only see the contrasts, and there wasn't enough in this tree trunk.  It's a very cool tree, just not in b&w.

So, the First of the 52's.  I learned some new things about my camera, renewed my love of black and white photography, and did a little restructuring in my mind.  As far as I'm concerned, this was a good start...


  1. Wow - what a great first week project! I love all of your shots. Especially the b & w. You've got such an eye. Always thought thst but now reading about your past photography, I know why. I bought myself the Canon Rebel T3 Just before Christmas. No idea where to even start. I'm actually taking some lessons with it today. I'm a true novice but really want to Dive into serious picture taking. I look forward to your feedback, friend.

  2. Thanks, about my photography. A true passion, for sure.

    Very cool about your Rebel! You'll love it, I'm sure. I switched from Nikon to Canon several years ago and never regretted the decision--though as I said in the post: still love my ol' friend.

    Can't wait to see your photos!

  3. Cool shots. The spiderweb was fantastic.

    1. Thanks so much. The web was actually frozen (it was 28* that morning), so it stood out even better between the black fence rails.

  4. The world has been a tornado of sparkly lights and children's whims lately--I've never been so glad to pack away the glitter and breathe.

    The first two pics....make me want to paint. *sigh* The windows in my studio are the oldest in the house....the room is freezing, the paint clotted. Should I drag an easle down and warm the tubes of color...might I try one of them? xo

    1. I love that January is so clean and uncluttered...helps with deep breathing and listening to the quiet after the hols.

      Warm your tubes of color and paint away, girl! I am ever so happy my photos inspired you...