10 February 2009

Grasses, last light [Black & White]

Grasses [B&W]In a comment on the previous photo, Robin Andrea suggested these kinds of photos, which attempt "to convey the real sense of light in an otherwise darkening forest", in some ways work better in black and white. In fact, I'd tried it as a B&W but opted for the colour version (which in fact has been slightly desaturated as the "straight" colour version looked ugly to me). However, after reading Robin Andrea's comment I went back to the B&W version and wasn't so sure of my original preference.
Anne-Marie also had reservations about the foreground grasses, and while the B&W conversion does nothing for the strong, linear dark-light demarcation, I wonder whether it subdues the dominance of those bright sunlit grasses? (Of course, the possibility remains that on an uncalibrated monitor — like most, especially those in Internet cafes and hostels — the contrast and colour might be distorting the photo.)
So, here's the B&W version, and I'm interested to hear your thoughts.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

10 comments:

Lesley said...

This is an interesting comparison, Pete. I didn't see the version in colour until after viewing the B&W one. I prefer the latter, but it's not by much of a margin. Now I'm wondering if I'm influenced by what I saw first? Perhaps it's more suggestive of the darkening forest. I don't have any problem with the demarcation line on the foreground grasses. It doesn't seem very strong to me as the shadowed area is full of detail and my eye accepted it for what it is.

Zhoen said...

I like this much better. The dull grasses washed out the composition. With the color gone, the light and shapes take over. More interesting, more dramatic, less office watercolor.

Relatively Retiring said...

...while for me, the colour is essential to give the depth of the forest and the dry crispness of the foreground. But then, I'm a Northern European twig-collecting, (nearly) forest-dwelling old crone.

pohanginapete said...

Lesley, Zhoen, RR — thanks for the thoughts, and particularly for pointing out what it is that appeals about one or the other.

Anne-Marie said...

I like the second one best, the black + white. There's a surreal quality to this photo and for me, the surreal is implicit in the black + white. While in the colour version I just felt confused.

PS. Loved the pumpkin one. Wow! The colour is gorgeous in that one.

robin andrea said...

I am surprised, but for some reason I like the color version more. I think it's because the light is warmer and richer. There doesn't seem to be enough contrast for the black and white to really give a sense of that light. It may just be that digital interpretation of black and white just doesn't do what black and white film could. I'm going to have to think about this some more. Thanks for posting it.

pohanginapete said...

Anne-Marie, I know what you mean, although the colour doesn't affect me as adversely as it does you. Perhaps this is one of those photos where particular elements (e.g., colour) both add and detract, and the extent to which those elements have those effects depends (inevitably) on the viewer.

Robin Andrea, that's interesting indeed. I won't get into the arguments over film vs digital for B&W, although some pundits have strong views: for example, Mike Johnson at The Online Photographer, (see the second half of his post; for disagreement,check the comments on that post or go straight to Chuck Kimmerle's photo of bison). Instead, I'm beginning to understand that a single element or quality of a photo can add and detract, as I mentioned to Anne-Marie, above. I think that's strongly the case with this photo, and probably lies at the root of my low level dissatisfaction with this photo. In both versions, I like it and I don't.
Time away from this photo, however, will probably change my feelings about it. I've posted photos I've been pleased with, only to find I'm now appalled by them (no, I won't say which!)

robin andrea said...

Thanks so much for the links. I'll go read them. I also have gone back to look at some photos and wondered what I was thinking? What I thought was there is not-- or is, and no longer appeals to me. How does that happen?

pohanginapete said...

Robin Andrea, I'm sure you'll find Chuck Kimmerle's photos worth a good look. It's a shame they're so small (and they look over-sharpened to me), but he sure knows how to get a good range of tones. A few might cross the line between lyrical intensity and melodrama (as John Sarkovski said of Ansel Adams), but many of us struggle to get anywhere near that line.

It's worth checking out the B&W galleries of Charles Cramer and George DeWolfe, too.

As for the way our responses change — I don't know how it happens, but I guess it's similar to acquiring or losing a taste. Exposure and contemplation are probably key.

butuki said...

I don't like the BW version at all. Something cold and flat about the picture. One of the previous colored version's most important aspects is its sense of warmth brought on by the subtle wheat color.

My one suggestion for the colored version is that perhaps it might work a little better with slightly more color saturation and a darker background. At least that how it seems to work for me when I view the photo from a slightly different angle on my LCD screen...