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Friday, November 21, 2014

autumn leaves

"I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed."
Garry Winogrand


Taken out of context, Winogrand's statement may appear flip and cynical.  I think, however, that he meant it quite sincerely.  He actually made similar statements on many occasions which alluded to photography as a way of investigating the world and the mind's perception of it.  The fact that Winogrand worked primarily in black and white is particularly relevant because of the often unexpected transformations which the extraction of color produce in a photographed scene.


Photographing leaves as they change color in the Fall is illustrative of the nuances of translating from color to monochrome.  Much of the immediate visual impact we experience in viewing Autumn foliage is due to the interplay of colors in the leaves.  Monochrome translation reveals that distinct hues may appear undifferentiated depending on surface reflectivity in the subject and on the chromatic sensitivity of films and lenses.  The challenge then for the monochrome photographer is to look beyond the immediate impact of Autumn's colorful displays to explore some of the other visual components of the observed scenes including form, texture and contrast.

5 comments:

Jim Grey said...

Winogrand's statement resonates with me. Sometimes I photograph something so that when I get the photo back I can see it more clearly, really stop and study it. Sometimes I'm surprised when the photo does not match my memory. It leads me to call into question my ability to retain a scene or an object in my mind, or to wonder about the frame of mind I brought to it in that moment that caused me to perceive it differently from the image on my screen. Sometimes clearly the image is affected by the film or lens I chose and it causes me to see the thing in a new way. This is endlessly fascinating for me.

Mike said...

My error rate has gone up and my success rate has gone down as I've gotten older. I periodically come to the idea that maybe I've made enough pictures and I should put the thing to rest. In the end, though, I enjoy the whole process of photography and it seems unlikely at this point that I could find another endeavor that would be as absorbing and rewarding on so many levels as making pictures with my old cameras.

JR Smith said...

I've often wanted to challenge myself by shooting fall's colors in black and white. You've inspired me to try it with what color is left on the trees here. I like these photographs.

Jim said...

I hope you'll not give up, Mike. You do good work and I enjoy looking at it. I've learned a thing or two from your photos.

Anonymous said...

Please never stop, what your doing is so wonderful. In an age where pictures have little meaning and can be taken over and over... while you demonstrate something no longer bound to the times, cameras that could tell stories and film and photos that don't always come out right. It's a wonderful thing to do