Thursday, April 26, 2012

Delight for the Soul

To see in color is a delight for the eye, but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.

I came across this quote attributed to Andri Hery and had to write it down so I could share it.  It really speaks to me.  It was a timely quote as I had recently acquired Silver Efex Pro 2 and was experiencing black and white image processing in a way that reminded me of my early days in the darkroom watching images form right in front of my eyes...this wasn't just magic, it was thrilling and almost miraculous.  My digital work in black and white was now starting to approach that same feeling, and the quote took on a certain relevance to me.

Up until recently I had been using Photoshop Elements or Lightroom to make my conversions to black and white.  I began to favor Lightroom because of it's quickness, simplicity, and the power of being able to use the targeted adjustment tool with the underlying color data driving the resulting changes.  But it was Silver Efex Pro 2's ability to replicate the varieties of contrasts, structures, and moods with ease that convinced me that I was underutilizing my photographic expression by not utilizing black and white enough.

There are so many different creative expressions of photography that I see on a daily basis, from the straight-forward, nearly out of the camera documentary, to the wildly colored and evenly toned HDR images, to the painterly interpretations, and everything in between.  But a good black and white image is truly something on a different emotional level.

Without color to influence your reaction to an image, black and white images rely on shapes, contrasts, and light to convey the image's story and emotion.  You know when an image, color or black and white, hits your emotional buttons, and I think you might agree that a really good black and white image can be transformative.  I'm continually working to create images that do that.  It's the hardest part, and yet the ultimate objective of photography.  The equipment knowledge, techniques, gear bags, scouting and setup, etc are all in pursuit of moving the soul.

If you have questions, comments, or would like to share some of your own experiences, please feel free to contact me at You can also visit my extensive photographic web gallery at

(Metadata:  1/250 sec at f/8.0, 48mm focal length and ISO 200)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Journey Continues...

I have always loved black and white photography.  No doubt that's due to my beginnings in photography during high school where I was fortunate enough to have my own dark room.  I had bulk film, rolled my own cannisters, developed my own film, and made my own enlargements.

Of course digital photography changed all that, and along with the profoundly powerful editing software, made converting images to black and white a snap...actually, a click--often times a single click.

So I've got Lightroom (LR) and I've got Photoshop Elements (PSE), and both have powerful black and white processing tools--more than the average, or even above average photographer would ever need.  But sure enough, there were photographer friends of mine that swore by a program which was dedicated to nothing but black and white imagery--and that program was Silver Efex Pro 2.  Similar to the way Photomatix (which I also have) is dedicated to processing HDR photos, Silver Efex Pro (or SEP as the "in" crowd calls it) is dedicated to black and white conversion.

Each step of my journey has included a reluctance on my part to taking the next step.  So you can imagine my resistance to getting SEP.  Really, with LR and PSE and Photomatix, do I need another program, and one dedicated to such a small area of processing, b&W?  Of course not.  Well, maybe.  Ok, yes, absolutely I need it.  And now that I have it, I wonder how I ever got along without it...just like my journey's steps to PSE, and LR, etc...this step was another significant step forward.

Now I'm looking through my viewfinder and am seeing the end result of a black and white images.  The above shot was one such vision during my visit to Union Station in Los Angeles.  Who hasn't been bored waiting for a plane, or a bus, or in this case a train...but with a stack of hats?  Yes, this required a photograph, but to me the interesting part wasn't just the man with the hats, but look at the treasure this photograph reveals in the background.  It was the man with curiosity (and a steaming cup of coffee).  It was that expression of curiosity and wonder that compelled me to take this shot.  Glad I had SEP waiting at home for me!

You really don't know where your photographic journey will take you, but hopefully you'll be less resistive to each step than I've been.  I don't regret a single decision I've made with either hardware, software, or camera gear.  Each step and been along a maturing curve as my skills and interests have evolved and improved.  It's a journey without a roadmap, and as I've said previously, without even paths...

If you have questions, comments, or would like to share some of your own experiences, please feel free to contact me at You can also visit my extensive photographic web gallery at

(Metadata 1/60 sec at f/5.6, ISO 1800, focal length 105mm with a 70-300 Nikon lens)