Shooting The Monochrome
My personal roots in photography began in the analog era. Way back then, in the Jurassic period, black and white film is where most of us learned about aperture, zone focusing, depth of field, shutter speed, and to avoid at all costs shooting directly into the sun. Black and white photos was what the high school paper accepted, and for that matter just about every other news worthy outlet. Black and white was easier to develop in your basement, and easier to get your parents on board to the make shift remodeling you did to that cubbyhole of yours. Sure, we all did shoot some color, but that was a lot more expensive. Couldn’t develop that in the basement, the chemicals and gear you needed was way too costly for your budget. Taking it to your local photography store was the only option, and that too was expensive for kids on a budget. (Yes, back then every town had its only local photography store with real photographers who were willing to answer questions and even provide a critique or two.) Now as we all know, the local photography store is kaput, and everyone is shooting digital cameras and converting their color files to black and white, if they so desire it.
Interestingly enough, there seems to be a bit of resurgence in film photography. Pros and enthusiasts seem to be rediscovering the joys of analog shooting. Despite the demise of certain film types, like Kodachrome, Kodak, Illford, Fuji, Agfa, and a few others are still churning out film products. On the digital side, there are a lot of digital plug-ins that you can incorporate into your work flow to convert your images to black and white film type emulations. Nik Software, Alien, DxO are just a few plug-ins that convert color digital files to look like black and white film output. They can even take color output and make them look like the results you once got with some discontinued color film profiles. Or you could even go one step further, and pick up a Leica Monochrome camera. The only camera that outputs incredibly sharp black and white images. Just like in the old days of black and white film photography. The Monochrome is a digital camera in a league of its own. Not only based on its output, but its high cost of ownership.
Personally, I’ve always liked the output of black and white. Particularly its photojournalistic lineage and from the images I’ve seen from street shooters using this medium. There is just something classical about the grainy images black and white photos reveal to us. Black and white provides a constructivism of the life that surrounds us. Seen in clarity that I believe only black and white reveals. It’s about the story and the light found in black and white that I have always found alluring. On a recent trip to New York City, one of the world’s photographic meccas, I took some time to hit the streets at night. The nice thing is that most New Yorkers pay little heed to street shooters. NYC allows any photographer no matter the skill level the opportunity to capture great images. Hope you like the results.