Sea wall in black and white

July 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

My Olympus cameras have a setting called “grainy black and white,” which I haven’t used much. It’s an electronic simulation of a condition that used to affect black and white film in the days of analog photography, when photographers would “push”their film–underexpose and overdevelop it–which allowed them to take pictures in low lighting conditions. While this resulted in images they might not have gotten otherwise, it also emphasized the grains of light-sensitive silver that were embedded in the negative and which gave the final print a textured look. Hence, photographers referred to the resulting images as “grainy.” The pictures also tended to be contrasty, with pronounced blacks and whites and a reduced range of grays. It’s this last attribute that has prevented me from using the “grainy black and white” setting, because I like to see a wide range of contrast, from black through gray to white. But when I saw the decaying logs in this sea wall at the southern tip of Chebeague Island, off the coast of Maine, I thought they would be good subject matter for this technique.

I also was thinking about the art classes I took with Kitty Winslow at Wesleyan University, in which she talked about “mark making,” the act of creating marks with visual resonance that are not necessarily the traditional “marks” that one might make when doing a traditional drawing, or in this case, doing a traditional photograph. So I have pushed myself a little harder here than in some of my pictures, going toward a place where there are fewer clues for the viewer. I hope there is enough information left in the pictures so you can stretch your imagination and make something that fits your view of the world.

Olympus E-PL1 with Lens Baby Composer

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