Deprivation Exercises

In color, the bright green grass distracts from the weirdness of this image.

Digital photography puts a lot of power in our hands. And lest we forget, power corrupts.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling spoiled and uninspired, I set some limits and force myself to go out and shoot like I did as a teenager: manual mode, black and white, prime (fixed focal length) lens. If I’m feeling really tough, I’ll limit myself to 24 or 36 exposures.

Mundane scenes seem a little more serious in black and white

Even though I am proud to be a lazy, disorganized, impatient photographer, I still want to make images that I like, and that means that sometimes I have to put in a little effort to reorient my vision.

Most of us shoot digital in color and convert to black and white at the computer, when we feel it will suit the image. But setting the camera to shoot in black and white forces a different type of discipline. It requires that I see differently at the moment of capture, and that’s the exercise I need.

Sometimes a very colorful scene appears while I am shooting in black and white, but that happened in my film days all the time. At least with digital, I have the option to switch back to color "mid-roll." In this case, I did not exercise that option.

Also, because color is now so easy, we sometimes forget how powerful monochrome images can be. I’m always surprised at the way mundane scenes take on a little bit of gravitas in black and white.

Do you have any special rituals for getting back in the groove, photographically speaking? I’d love to hear about them.

The black and white cat and black and white newspaper, without the distracting yellow wall and honey colored table.


Filed under Camera Settings, Motivation

2 responses to “Deprivation Exercises

  1. If it were me, I’d change the newspaper headlines to something about the cat.

  2. David, you don’t think she was reading about the “rat site”?

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