Friday, February 22, 2013

Focus on life: Week 8 - Monochromatic

Sally Russick of The Studio Sublime is hosting a year long challenge which is... sublime... as you'd expect with such a studio name. The challenge is named 'Focusing on Life' and every week Sally is sending a prompt on what should we focus the following week.

Her current prompt? An interesting one:

This week look deeper through the lens to the story your photo captures and then process it to one color! Or be daring and shoot in B&W (monochrome).

Like many others of my generation - I had the opportunity to watch black and white movies, and to see family albums with B&W or sepia photographs. Why... our own home pictures were B&W until not so long ago.

Many people think about monochromatic as colour-less. I find it fascinating - it allows one to focus on the message, on the composition, on the deep - and not to be distracted by colours, by the facade.

It also reminds me of the (not so long ago) time when our TV was B&W - and the sports commentator would describe the costumes in Skating Championships: I could see the vivid colours and it brought something special, like a bond between him and us.

These are taken on a snow-storm night / day a couple of years back (the storm that dropped 40 inches of snow in one pass :) ) and I didn't touch them at all - that's how I took them: the first three at night, during the storm; the last 2 - in the morning. Our neighbourhood was amazingly quiet that day.

But then I felt like cheating - while I love these pictures, they were not taken for this week's challenge. It is a challenge, and my word for the year is, after all, bloom... using old pictures while sometimes warranted, in this case didn't feel 'blooming' at all.

So I picked up my camera - and decided to be 'daring' and set it on B&W. Err.... how do I do that?! fumbled a bit with the camera, nothing popped up, went to my technical adviser (aka Dear Hubby) and... lo and behold, he fumbled with the same camera and - found nothing!

Now - I am one of those strange creatures: if you deny them something, they'll turn the Earth to make it happen (so if you really want me to do something tell me I cannot do it, I shouldn't do it, or I am not allowed to do it: I'll guarantee you it's going to be done in a blink!). That being said - I googled it... and read... and read... everybody said 'no, it can't be done on a digital camera'... but I truly love my camera and I don't think there is something it can't do. And at last - I found it - the setting is buried in there, but it is.

And these are my pictures of last night: Of course - the orchids :) Two of them: the deep pink and the white one - can you tell?

 Therese's beaded ornament (if you'd like to see it in colour, check this post).

My growing collection of vintage buttons (you can read more about it here)

I couldn't resist :) it was on my desk and it looked so beautiful - the kiwi:

There you have it: my take on the world in black and white.

P.S. When he was about 4 or so, William and I had this conversation:
  • Mommy, when was colour invented? 
  • Colour? What you mean by that? 
  • You know, long ago the pictures were all black & white - is that how people saw the world? 
  • Oh... no, the world was coloured, but we didn't know how to make the pictures colourful. It's like when you have only black & white crayons and you want to draw the world. -
  • Oh, now I understand! [you could see the light downing on his face]
May you find the colour in your B&W moments!

Please visit the other artists - we are gathered, as usual, at Sally's place


  1. I'm so proud of you! That you persisted and found the B&W option. AND they are great photos, too. Really like the jar of buttons.

  2. Wow, sweet pics all of these :) And I remember reading this conversation with your son. And I don't remember asking these many questions of any adult when I was a kid! Wonderful that he does, and you answer!!

    Coming to the pics...LOVE that ornament! Looks like something right out of the Titanic, and I think I would not have noticed the glint on the beads if this was a color pic.

    About the neighborhood pics, how come there is no color at all in the daytime pics??? No color on the homes??

    1. what? you made me go back and check - I see red brick, taillights and a red hydrant :P love ya!

  3. Amazing how the snow washed out the color in the snow pictures. Your "in home group" is wonderful, and so hope you write down all those pearls of wisdom from William, priceless!

  4. I really like the ornament! Good for you for blooming for this challenge. I had to find my camera manual for this one!

  5. I cheated and used old photos. If I hadn't I would have used the B&W option in photoshop. There's a button to change my CAMERA to black and white?! heh

    I remember when my family got our first color TV. I AM old

  6. really great photo Alicia! and love how kids see the world with the simplicity of questions that make complete sense when they ask them! Good for you to stick with it and find the Black and White functionality on your camera! it was well worth it with these pictures

  7. I loved this DOES feel daring to step into the magical buttons on our cameras...great shots...have to go with the shot of the beaded ornament..feels very exotic!

  8. I love the snow pictures, so glad you included them. I don't know it's like half cheating... you recall them and look at them in a new light because of the prompt and that seems fair. But more is more, and blooms, always appropriate. It's funny since my brain doesn't know if that's a pink or orange orchid... but get to the kiwi and my brain is busy shouting GREEN at me!

  9. I love the eerie feeling from the first set of photos. I am glad you persisted, though. The last set are awesome! I love the kiwi. It is a wonderful shot. I love Therese's ornament also. The dangles almost loom like raindrops.

  10. All lovely pictures. You really do go the extra mile to finish your prompt! The snow storm night time pictures are my favorites although they are all good!

  11. i think snowy pictures lend themselves to b&w... but i love the button jar! that image is just so sharp - a great shot!

  12. I love the snow pictures, there's something about that first snow coming down at night with the street lights illuminating it. So peaceful and quiet. Congrats on persevering to find that setting! Conversation so sweet!

  13. Ooooo I really like the first set of photos and the shot of the button too Oh heck, I love them all great job!

  14. Wow - those night photos are amazing (plus I cannot believe how much snow you got). Love how you kept digging until you found the setting on the camera!

  15. The night snow shots rock! I love all of them, such fun. I can almost taste your kiwi.

  16. I think all of your pics are valid examples of monochrome (or nearly monochrome) photography! I have found that same washing out of color on a snowy mornings just this year (since it is my first with this camera) when I get early morning shots with no sunlight, instant black and white! I also love the picture of the ornament. Such an emphasis on shape!

  17. I am in love with the third photo down...that last one of the night photos - amazing!! I also had to smile about the conversation you had with your son - very cool!! Glad you found the B/W setting on your camera. I searched my new one and cannot find it to save my soul,...had to revert to my old one! Do share your secret of how/where you finally discovered it if you get the chance!

  18. Excellent pics. The snowstorm pics are wonderful. The story about your son wanting to know about color is precious.

  19. I love the pine trees heavy with snow - looks wonderful in the monochromatic palette.

    (no. 43 this week)

  20. Your night time pictures are hauntingly beautiful.

    I like the black and white version of the beaded ornament better than the colored one.

    All your pictures are great and I admire your determination to take them in B&W.

  21. I think monochrome is beautiful, Alicia! When I was a child, my father, an amateur photographer, would develop his own B&W in his basement darkroom (I can still smell the chemical baths... watching the image appear on blank paper was magical!) I remember thinking colour photos looked "strange" at first.

    I worked for several years at a copy & print store. Customers who had never before seen B&W or sepia would be amazed at how beautiful an ordinary colour photo became when switched to monochrome. Sometimes a little mystery can really enhance our experience of the ordinary.

  22. How beautiful! I remember those times as well. :)

  23. That beaded ornament is so cool in monchrome! Seeing the values in the photos is very interesting.

  24. As I too am hip-deep in snow still *sigh*..and SO done with it! I loved your "golden-glow" snow pictures. Maybe that's what I should do....picture my world in a golden glow. :-)


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