Friday, August 5, 2011

Black and White

     "I cannot pretend to be impartial about the colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns." - Winston Churchill

     For my birthday this year, my parents got me a gift card to the technology and appliance store Best Buy. Although I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to purchase a refrigerator, I had no idea what I was going to use my gift card on. In fact, that particular gift card is still tucked in my wallet waiting for the perfect use. Anyhow, our closest Best Buy is around forty-five minutes away from us in a town where my mom shops occasionally. I went with her on one of those infrequent shopping trips, and she dropped me off at Best Buy to look around while she ran a few errands. I made my inspection of the store looking at three-dimensional televisions, cellular telephones, high-definition handy cameras and other such inventions of the twenty-first century. I started to worry the store employees after I asked if they carried typewriters, but after an hour or so, I found my little corner of the store where I settled in. The isle with the digital SLR cameras. The expensive cameras. After I found out that the store model cameras that they put on display actually took pictures, I was hooked. I took pictures of the isle. I took pictures of brochures, I took pictures of light-bulbs. And I took pictures of the store employees who were now even more worried.
     I love photography. Photographs are like extensions of the mind. Like utensils are extensions of the hands, and swimming flippers are extensions of the feet, photography can extend the mind to far away places or take you back in time. 
     Black and white photography, especially, has an added dimension of visual language. Actually, it's more of a removed dimension of visual language that lets you better explore shapes and textures. I love taking pictures around our farm. The ten acres gives an endless amount of material to shoot. Black and white photos really make natural lighting dramatic and interesting. Black and white pictures of cloudless noon give a very sharp cast, while the shadows near sunset on a cloudy day are dramatic and sometimes mysterious. Black and white brings all these attributes out in a photograph. Sometimes, however, (and more often than not) it is the color of a subject that makes the photograph come alive. Black and white is not always the right filter to lay over photographs with a vibrant color.
     I'm a very black and white person. I see the world a bit to simplistically sometimes. Either something is hot or it's cold; painful or painless; good or bad. These general, "computer language" type of distinctions are the "shapes and textures" that black and white accentuates in photographs. A lot of times, it works. Polarized views about difficult and complex things can truly clarify and explicate them, but when it's the vibrant color--the middle ground--that makes the subject come alive, a black and white perspective detracts from and muddles the subject. Like photography, it can be important to analyze your perspective and see if it's the middle colors that really illuminate the issue.
     Nonetheless, it can be nearly impossible to catch yourself in black and white thinking when in the middle of a heated discussion on the science of lightsabers. Before you know it, you could have over-simplified the argument and lost the color. Simply asking yourself if you are applying an "either-or" filter where there are actually more than two options can greatly help when deciding if a black and white perspective is the best choice.
     Before I simplify this blog post too much, I'm off to take some pictures.


1 comment:

  1. Paul, these pictures are great! Trust me, your blog will be read, just keep it up!