Hermanus and why I love B/W

My brother and sister and law invited us for a spontaneous getaway to Hermanus last week. It was great to spend time with them and our godchild. Well, I also found some time to create some photographs. Not far away from our accommodation, I found a small bay with beautiful views over the ocean. The day started with heavy rain and cleared up in the afternoon. When I went to the beach, the cool breeze did not invite to stay long, though the dramatic light said the opposite. I lost track of time exploring this little bay.

I was shooting digital and moved back and forth between color and b/w. Finally, I settled for b/w and was happy that I did so. Of course, you can transform images into b/w in post process. I find it helps me to see better in b/w, if I see b/w for quick reviews on the camera back as well. Some of the images, here, I shot originally in color and moved them into b/w via Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2.

There are many good reasons, why I love b/w and they are not rational. When I started photography as a child, I created my first images on b/w film. This was not an artistic decision by a 6 year old youngster, but rather a financial one. B/w was cheaper and my brother developed for nearly free at the photo lab at his school (in which I would spend hours and hours a few years later). From an early age I developed a feel for b/w.

Later on, I also photographed in color, but serious developmental steps in photography were often linked to b/w photography. Many of the photographers, whose work I admire photograph(ed) in b/w. Think about Henri Cartier Bresson, Sebastiao Salgado, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Ansel Adams and some more. Ansel Adams’ processing of b/w prints had a major influence on how I would print my own photographs in the darkroom.

Well, there is something else about b/w that I find more difficult to find in color photography. I can get lost and dig deep in what I experience, when I create the image. It goes beyond creating a beautiful image. It is about what I feel, hear, smell, see in the moment. When I view those images, I can reconnect with those emotions and sensations. For some reason, this doesn’t happen so much with color photography. Maybe color photography is too close to reality and the level of abstraction, you find in b/w helps to disconnect from reality a bit.

Right now, I am shooting of my personal work in b/w, including portraits and family events. I will share some portraits some time soon. Here are a few more pictures from the trip. I will upload some more images this week that I created over the last few days.

Please share your thoughts on your experience in the comments below.

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