Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Colour Challenge

In 1976, I discovered the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson and his cohorts at the Magnum Agency in Paris. Awestruck by the simple perfection and emotional impact of those black and white photographs, I bought a Leica rangefinder and set out to frame a few “decisive moments” of my own. A couple hundred rolls of Tri-X later, I had a handful of decent prints. The masters make it look so easy don’t they? But I never gave up and my passion for monochrome has yet to ebb. At the turn of the century, I embraced digital photography almost immediately (instant gratification and freedom from nasty chemicals), but the new medium has steered me down an unexpected side street…colour. I’ve been tinkering with it some, but it seems to be a lot like playing the ukulele: Easy to do at a modest level but tough to do really well. I’m game though. So I’m taking on the self-assignment of posting one week’s worth of colour pictures, the best I can come up with. The goal is seven images that work in colour, are about colour, celebrate colour. Wish me luck!

18 comments:

Mark said...

Please don't say the leaves are starting to turn there already.

Snapper said...

A few them are but not because it's gotten cold already. The arbutus start to loose some of their leaves in July which is normal for that species.

Wayne said...

That sounds like a fun project to me. I'm looking forward to the posts.

BTW, I meant to put this in a comment somewhere a couple of days ago and you've given me the perfect segue, August 22 was the 100th anniversary of HCBs birth.

Benjamin Madison said...

I'm sure books could be written about the differences between BW and color photography. For me the challenge is to go the other way - BW seems very demanding and somehow less natural. However, with your example before me I will certainly try my hand at some black and white soon. If your first attempt at color in this post is characteristic, you have nothing to fear. Color can hide a multitude of faults but it can also reveal a world of beauties - Good Luck!

Blacksun said...

A very poetic picture.

Julie said...

Looking forward to the next 6 posts, Snapper. This first one is a stunner. As you say, simple is the one to go - but simple has to be rivetting. The curve in the tip. The shadow beneath. The slight imperfection on the structure of the leaf. Simple but leaving little to chance.

Would you also consider a post on when to go B&W and when to retain the original colour, please?

Snapper said...

Julie, that's a good idea about colour vs. b&w versions of the same photo. I will try to remember to address that at some point. One of my two cameras has a monochrome mode which I use all the time so often my originals are in b&w. No decision to be made in that case.

Petrea said...

Snapper, the reason I don't come to your blog regularly is because you're so good I'm afraid I'll get addicted, and I don't have time.

You--well, you and nature--made this leaf into a work of art.

AnneB said...

I haven't thought about Tri-X for eons! Tri-X was 400 ASA, Plus-X was 200, but what did we call the 100 ASA film? Anybody?

One of the things I love about digital is the freedom from hypo. To think...whole generations will never appreciate the smell of hypo lingering on their hands, their lab apron, their jeans....

Was it Pan-X, maybe?

Snapper said...

Tri-X was/is ASA400 but I always rated it at 200 and underdeveloped it. Plus-X was/is ASA125 but I never used it much. I've no idea about Pan-X. I was kind of a one-trick pony in that once I learned what I could and couldn't do with Tri-X, I just stuck with that. And I do not miss the aroma of hypo one little bit.

Julie said...

Are you two still speaking in English? *grin*

magiceye said...

love this!

babooshka said...

Bresson a photography genius.
People often mistake what image is best suited to a monocrome study or a colour imsge. It is also a myth any image shot in b&wi s a good one.

Wonderful expample of subtle colour that bursts through the image and picks up those textures.

Snapper said...

Thanks to everyone for all the comments. This has been a nice and somewhat nostalgic discussion. Julie, if you're still following, Orange Blossom Special was originally in colour but is far more effective in monochrome. And yes HCB was a genius and a very private and humble man. His book The Mind's Eye (writings on photography) is definitely worth seeking out.

Mrs Snapper said...

Before I was Mrs. Snapper, I had never thought much about photography. Even before we were dating, Snapper suggested I spend time with HCB, so I went to the library and ended up spending hours poring over his pictures. I'm pretty sure that's why Snapper pursued me after that. He was impressed that I would go check out his hero. It was my pleasure.

Julie said...

Yep, still following. Wouldn't miss this for quids. I have a birthday voucher at a bookshop from a cousin who is a bit of a francophile. Now I know what to do with it - and the book can accompany me to Paris in October.

Virginia said...

May I recommend his collection of Paris photos? It is amazing. I got a paperback version from Amazon.
I am fascinated by this discussion. For years i shot all the grandchildren in BW film (point and shoot). Now I always shoot in color and change to sepia (my love) or BW depending on the photograph. I do think some beg for one or the other. I will be back often Snapper to see what you have for us.

Becky said...

What a great project idea! I'm looking forward to following you on this journey. This leaf photo is fantastic. Simple and serene. I love it.