Have you been seeing lots of black and white images posted on Facebook lately? There was a photography challenge recently in which people nominate others to post five black and white photos on consecutive days. The person challenged could in turn nominate another person each day or wait until the final image to nominate someone. In October, I was nominated for the challenge. I don’t generally shoot with black and white intentions–color is as much a component of my photos as the subject itself, which made this challenge particularly, um, challenging. Maybe that’s why it’s called a challenge? After I had completed the challenge, it was suggested I gather the images into one post, so that is what I am doing here.
The first image from my challenge is a gnome that sits on a swing in front of Betty’s Pies outside of Two Harbors, Minnesota. It’s a favorite stop while up on the North Shore and the pie is delectable. Need a recommendation? Go for the caramel apple pie with crumble topping. I also have it on good authority (a little gnome told me) that a slice of the banana cream pie will leave you craving for more.
The second image is one of my most favorite buildings in Saint Paul, the Cathedral of Saint Paul, located at the corner of Summit Avenue and Selby Avenue. The Cathedral is a magnificent, imposing landmark which was built on the highest spot in downtown St. Paul. In recent years, it has received worldwide attention with the Red Bull Crashed Ice Course being constructed on the Cathedral grounds. The 2015 Crashed Ice event will occur January 24th, and I will be there as I was the last two years.
The third image was taken while walking around downtown Minneapolis with friends for the sole purpose of doing street photography. Street photography, simply put, involves capturing and documenting candid accounts of urban activity and human interaction. Seems pretty straightforward, right? Hang out in a bustling outdoor market or a busy public plaza with an unassuming camera and you’re presented with countless photo opportunities. This gentleman was simply hanging out too, and he made a great subject.
The fourth image in my black and white challenge was the first one one in which my initial vision was indeed “black and white”. The photo was taken on the East Bank of the U of M campus, overlooking an outdoor seating area. The strong shadows from the tables and chairs onto the pavement created an abstract feel. To be honest, there really wasn’t much color in the shot to begin with, and the absence of it altogether made for a much stronger image, in my opinion.
The final image in my challenge was originally shot on black and white film twenty years ago. This was for a class I had taken on photography; not only did I take the shot, I developed the roll of film and printed the 8×10 myself. I had mounted the photo, along with others, on heavy mat backing boards for the final class project. Earlier this year I pulled those old photo boards out and, using my Nikon D5100 digital camera, took photos of the photos; this is one of those images.
I hope you enjoyed this article in which I share the series of photos I posted for the black and white challenge. I enjoyed the original challenge and I enjoyed putting this post together as well. While not all challenges are learning opportunities, this one was for me. It made me realize that a strong image can often be made more compelling by presenting it in a black and white form. It also made me realize that not all images are necessarily good candidates for a black and white representation. Finally, and most importantly, it made me realize that there’s definitely a skill involved in “seeing” a scene in shades of grey and knowing which compositions will be enhanced by omission of color. And that’s one skill I intend to hone as my experience broadens in the coming years.
Which image did you like best? Leave a comment if you’re so inclined!