Friday, December 7, 2007


W.W.A.D. What Would Ansel Do?

It is a beautiful September morning in Colorado. The sky is blue. The clouds go from orange to pink to white. The aspen are yellow, green, or even reddish. Colors are everywhere. Bright, bold, vivid colors. It is autumn after all and colors abound. Everything about the setting screams color. I naturally reach for a box of Velvia with color like this.

But what would Ansel do if he were here? Well, Ansel being Ansel, he would probably still take a black and white negative and come away with a print that was so sharp, deep, and glowing, that it would make you want to give up trying to ever make an image here yourself.

I like black and white images, but I am really a color photographer. I sometimes dabble in monochrome but my work and images are mainly color. Still I often take some black and white film with me on a trip-just in case. However, Colorado in autumn is not one of those trips that jump to mind for it, so I did not bring any.

So as I pondered what Ansel would do with a scene like this I flipped a switch on the digital camera to B+W and took a couple of quick images and surprise! They looked pretty good. So while, I did not have black and white film to use in the 4x5, I had "black and white" pixels I could use in a little digital camera. So I made a few images with the thought of working these into monochrome.

When I got back home to my computer I tried working with a few images and did a little Photoshopping out the color. I liked what I saw. I found that monochrome can make a great "fall image". Actually, the wonders of modern computer programming allow you to do a lot of neat things with images that would take ages in the darkroom to learn. I am able to take an image to monochrome and tweak it with a lot of darkroom like techniques and get a very respectable black and white, or sepia, or other type of traditional look.

As I worked with this image, I was quite pleased with the qualities I was able to find in the monochrome world. The quality of the sky, the definition in the peaks, the glow of the aspens. It was all there. It was autumn in black and white.

Maybe that is exactly what Ansel would have done.

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