On a whim, I picked up a copy of LensWork last weekend (I was waiting in line to buy more film and paper I didn’t need) and haven’t yet been able to put it down. I’d never seen this publication before and now I wouldn’t mind seeing it in my mailbox on a regular basis. I love it! This January/February 2005 issue that’s glued to my hands contains some of the most beautiful black and white photographs I’ve ever seen. I’ve been further inspired to work more with black and white.
I’ve loved black and white since that very first roll of Tri-X that I ran through my grandpa’s old Fujica. It was for my first SLR assignment in my first college photo class and the most interesting place I could think to shoot was at Beus Pond, a small nature reserve at the edge of my hometown. There’s a paved path around the pond, thick wooded patches and the furthest thing from silence you’ll ever hear. Aside from delighted, squealing children, the place is teeming with waterfowl: ducks, swans, varying migratory birds, and the loudest and perhaps most active of all birds (I say active because they will RUN YOU DOWN) -- the hungry, honking goose, which I believe is its official name. These geese are white and/or gray-feathered beasts with bright orange (killer) beaks. They have webbed feet the size of an adult male’s hands and the most laughable, yet feared “HOOOOONK” you’ll ever hear. And like I said, they will run you down. If you don’t have that bag of stale hamburger buns open and ready by the time you are within gentle tossing distance of these mean little buggers, they will crane their thick necks and lower their heads, start up the honking and waddle as fast as their man-hand feet will carry them. Beware. You could lose a finger.
Anyway, back to photography. I went to Beus Pond, where every just-beginning photo student goes to shoot a roll or two. It would be an understatement to say I was impressed with my first b/w results. I was ecstatic. I had 36 frames of ducks. Floating ducks. Flying ducks. Sleeping ducks. Bread-eating ducks. At the time, the concept was stellar! Black and white ducks! No one would ever think of that! Today, however, I just laugh and roll my eyes at myself when I think about how “good” that first roll was. But, at the same time, I am grateful for each and every lackluster composition I’ve made thus far. It is from rolls like that first one that I learn what is good and interesting and worthwhile. That being said, I’ve decided to revisit a few of my older black and white images. I printed each of the following images in a traditional wet darkroom, but have since made the transition to a digital darkroom. I feel that I’ve got color printing down to a science, but I’m struggling with black and white. I was never taught anything about b/w digital printing in college and have been learning about it on my own. Because I’ve got good wet prints of these images, I’ve decided to scan them and print them digitally. I figure I’ll be able to make good comparisons between the two, so I’ll let you know how they work. Let me know what you think of the images. Thanks!