The Purity Of B&W


Going Home To Momma…

Don’t you have the feeling sometimes of not reaching that creative high so that when you return home you are almost like an empty husk?

Well me too, and sometimes I really need to stretch my artistic legs.  Going out with a Color Camera will just not get the job done and leaves me feeling empty.  Working in Film is a lot better and scratches an itch that I just cannot reach otherwise… But when I am really feeling creatively down and mentally cramped I usually turn to my Leica M Monochrom system.

Duggars Creek Falls, Boone, NC.  Leica M Monochrome

Duggars Creek Falls, Boone, NC. Leica M Monochrome

Working directly in B&W is a soul expanding exercise that will re-inflate my creative side quickly and effectively.  I am the type of photographer who can actually think and see in B&W. Actually generating those images in the field with a capable B&W rangefinder system really is like going home to Momma.  It leaves me with that ohhhh feeling, or is it OHHHHH… Yep, that is the feeling that I am talking about!

First, I LOVE shooting with a rangefinder camera system.   ALL of my cameras are rangefinders except for one little Fuji XT1 that sits in my camera bag rarely used unless I take it out for lightning shots.  I just love the feeling of using a rangefinder!  I am not kidding about the feeling of going home to momma!  They take me back to my early days of photography when a rangefinder was all that I had and used.  They were and still are a nitch camera system.  You generally will not find someone out shooting birds in flight images with one, but that is OK  with me because after 50 years of shooting, I am soooo TIRED OF BIRDS (well except for hummingbirds but I can do those just fine with a rangefinder).

Outer Banks Fishing Pier, 250 second Exposure Leica M Monochrom

Outer Banks Fishing Pier, 250 second Exposure Leica M Monochrom

So what makes me smile about the M Monochrom?  The ease of use, the CRISP release of the shutter, the incredible functionality of the camera and its wide dynamic range!  I love the way it feels in my hands and responds to my control!  I even love the sound of it. It is almost sensual in nature!  Now, couple that with the amazing images that a pure B&W 18 mega pixel sensor with NO Brayer filter and no anti-aliasing filter can create you will be left breathless with the results.  

So for this simple and short post about achieving emotional nirvana, I will keep it to just 2 images that make me feel good. Now that I am creatively re-inspired I can go out again with my color camera (rangefinder of course) and while looking at my scenes in B&W create color images again!

Thank you for stopping by for a visit to the blog…

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5 comments on “The Purity Of B&W

  1. Always nice to see someone speak passionately about their art. I will shoot an image with the full intent of taking it to a b/w finish, but for the most part I always finish out a color version, too. It is akin to your guideline of processing infrared in faux color, b/w, and bronze, and then seeing which one best captures the heart of the scene. As I recall, you have an 850 IR camera, too. Ever go out with both it and the M and then try to choose between two favorite children?

    • Hi Frank! Thanks for the comment. Of course you are correct, when one is working within their normal workflow then we explore all areas! But when I am feeling strangled by lack of creative insight, that is the time that I put everything away and take the Monochrom and head out into the world with the the sole thought of creative enlightenment in the simple realm of monochromatic imagery. I usually am able to recharge in this way but not always… Sometimes it takes 2 days!

  2. Pingback: The Purity Of B&W | Mark Hilliard

  3. I think with black and white you get the full tonal range entirely in the luminance channel since that’s all there is. Maximum color can only be achieved at half luminance; at full luminance you have only white and at zero luminance you have only black anyway.

    Human portraits are particularly effective in black and white (or nearly so; greatly reduced saturation). I once demonstrated this to a cousin; made a photo of him in color and another in black and white, both right in the camera, and the black and white photo had considerably more “character” or expression in his face and features.

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