When Color is the Subject

“… with color, the subject was not necessarily important: only the color itself was of interest….”

Brassai.

 I make black and white photographs.  Obviously our world is a colorful one, but I look for scenes that include shapes, patterns and textures that render best in Black and White, emphasized by lighting that creates mood and atmosphere.

As with any image, all of the elements that the photographer decides to include in the frame should work together.  Any distracting details should be removed, which I believe goes for color too.  Since my work is predominantly black and white, color is not an important part of what I am trying to create and therefore I remove it to prevent it from being a distraction.  Clearly though, there are situations where color is an important part of the subject, if not the subject itself.  Every once in a while I am presented with a scene where color is a very important element and therefore needs to be included in the final image.  Such was the case recently when I went on a field shot with some friends from the Baltimore Camera Club to the Susquehanna River in Northern Maryland.  We arrived before dawn with the intention of shooting ice patterns that form in the rock pools.  However, as the sun commenced it’s journey over the horizon the sky filled with the most amazing reds, oranges and purples, bathing the river and rocks in a warmth that was only challenged by the freezing temperatures.  In the few seconds that this scene existed I quickly swiveled my camera around to try and capture the moment.  The image included with this post is what I saw.  It simply wouldn’t have worked in black and white.

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