Can’t get you out of my head.


For the last 15 years I’ve driven by this section of riverbank twice a day every day to and from work. Suddenly out of nowhere these images popped into my head. And for weeks I couldn’t let them go, and yet didn’t have the time to stop and make them. Of course this has happen before, driving around and all of a sudden a photograph leaps out of the passing scenery.

What really struck me about the images that jumped off of the riverbank, through the thin section of woods separating the river from the road and into my car was that these images were in black and white.

So what’s the big deal?

I didn’t grow up with a camera in my hands, to me the “good old days” only go back to 2008 when I first fell into this passion we call photography. Therefor, unlike so many of you who remember film and the darkroom, I don’t readily recognize what makes a good black and white image.

And yet the photographs I couldn’t get out of my head, for the first time were in black and white. I never even saw the possibility of a color as an option for these photos.

Go figure.




24 thoughts on “Seeing In Black & White: There’s a first time for everything.

    1. Yes they are! In this case the water was so stained with tannins it looked like tea, and the mud bank, the roots, ad the tree itself were all shades of gray. There wasn’t even enough green in the woods yet to give more than a meager hint of color.

      But even if the forest was in full-on summer greenery, I saw this in B&W right from the get-go. No if Only I can do that more often… 😉

  1. You echo my own thoughts about driving/walking around and seeing images in your head and being frustrated if you can’t capture them right then. You certainly did this section of riverbank justice with your captures.

    1. I know, right! Sometimes it takes all the will power I have not to slam on the brakes and hop out of the car.

      And thank you very much. I’m really glad I was able to capture what was in my head, right down to the crop. And for some reason I had the hair brained idea to shoot a pano. The first image is actually four frames, shot with the camera in portrait, then stitched in Photoshop.

    1. Thanks! I am always pretty excited when the finished product is pretty much exactly what’s been in my head for so long. Actually, after wanting to make this photo for so long, I would have been a little disappointed if it didn’t work out.

  2. Considering your background, Jeff, this must be a profound revelation, and it is certain to open up whole new worlds to your art and passion. And you’ve risen to this first challenge extremely well. Welcome to the other side!

    1. Thanks Gary. I’ve tried to teach myself to see in B&W by setting my camera to monochrome. I’ve shot for a whole day this way, but it’s always been hit or miss.

      Note to everyone reading this. Setting the camera to monochrome is a good way to learn to “see” in B&W, but you need to be shooting in RAW. With RAW the preview on the LCD is in black and white, but the original file is still in color. So if it doesn’t work as a B&W, you still have the opportunity to process a color image. Not the case if you’re shooting in jpg. With jpg, the B&W you get is all you get.

  3. Great images – the B&W allows us to see the shapes and lines more clearly as we are not side-tracked by color. I, too, love these “edge” places, there’s something intriguing about them.

  4. Wow…I love them! I especially adore the first one. The textures, light, and smoothness of the water revealing the rocks beneath is just wonderful.

  5. sometimes, it’s just the way it has to be. b&w is how a scene comes alive better and your shots did just that.
    and when the pictures you want to take come in b&w in your head, well, that’s just the way they should be.

    1. Thanks Julie. I just hope I “see” more of my photos in B&W, rather than have it being an accidental discovery while playing around in the computer.

  6. The photos have the right amount of contrast that makes them work good as B&W. Sometimes a photo lacks interesting colours, but if it still has contrast it can still be a keeper. Great shots.

    1. Thanks, and agreed. Given the right amount of contrast, even if it won’t work as a color image it’s worth a shot to try it as B&W. I just need to remember that more often when a photo doesn’t turn out as I had hoped when in color.

Comments and thoughtful critiques are always welcome.

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