Jul 012011

One of the greatest difficulties I face as a photographer is deciding whether to present an image in colour or black & white when the subject does instantly lend itself to one or the other.

All my images are shot in colour as a matter of course. I well remember chief photographer John Fairclough, on the weekly newspaper I worked on in the 1980s, saying that by shooting in colour, the shot could always be printed in the newspaper as black & white but the reverse was obviously not true.

In those days all news photographs appeared in the newspaper as black & white images. Colour was only used for the occasional fashion feature or a Royal visit.

I think my love of b&w photography stems from growing up with b&w images in newspapers, as well as b&w television. Sometimes I get a surprise on the Turner Classic Movie channel when I discover that an old movie I saw back in the 1970s, and which I automatically assumed was shot in b&w because of its vintage, was in actual fact shot in colour.

I also like working with an image in black & white. With Silver Efex Pro, and the various controls it offers, I can play about with an image, tweaking various parameters to get a black & white image just how I like it.

A good example of the kind of conundrum I often face arose from the trip to Fernandina Beach last weekend.

This shot of the man silhouetted on the jetty and the view across the St Marys River under a marvellous evening sky has an instant appeal in colour.

©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

But when the image is converted to b&w in Silver Efex Pro, it takes on a totally different quality and one that I think is more personal.

©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Each version has its own merits and that is where the difficulty arises, deciding whether one outweighs the other sufficiently enough to deseerve its inclusion in a gallery. I suppose an easy way out would be to present both images, as I have done here, and let the viewer decide.

But I feel it is my role as the photographer to decide. In presenting both versions, I would simply be passing the buck at best, lacking in conviction with regard to my artistic vision at worst.

When making choices from a wide selection, be it cameras, cars or whatever, I can usually narrow my choice down to two, leaving me with some agonizing soul searching as to which one I choose.

Now can you understand why I have such difficulty sometimes in choosing between b&w and colour, the choice is already down to two to begin with.

I often think my indecision over making a choice from two things comes down to being a Gemini.

That’s my excuse and I am sticking with it.

Leave a comment to say whether you prefer the b&w or colour version. I would welcome the feedback.

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Jun 292011

A documentary on Amelia Island on the PBS channel the other week got me to thinking about going to Fernandina Beach. The place has been visited several times but never with my DSLR.

At this time of the year the heat can be oppressive in northeast Florida and there is always the threat of thunderstorms, which is no bad thing because the build-up to a thunderstorm makes for an interesting sky. The important thing is not get caught out in one once the rain begins – it is the equivalent of someone turning on a tap or faucet, as they say in America.

By late afternoon, the heat starts to subside so that walking about is not quite so unpleasant as earlier in the day and, from a photographic point of view the light is so much better as the golden hour approaches.

We parked up at around 5:00 and the clouds were starting to get dark out to the west. Time was limited but there is nothing like a deadline for concentrating one’s mind.

An obvious focal point at Fernandina Beach is the St Marys River, with the Rayonier cellulose mill, the marina and the port facility. The marina provides access to the jetty alongside the river where a number of large motor yachts are usually moored.

©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

I watched one such vessel being refueled and also happened to notice the diesel pump when the operation had finished. It read 1,000 gallons and a cost of $4,999.00. That was just one tank. The boat seemed to be heading out but I was mistaken. It was simply turning round to gain access to its second fuel tank.

I guess if you can afford a luxury motor yacht, you can also afford the cost of filling her up. That amount of fuel would keep my car running for about four years.

How the other half lives.

©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

The impending storm held off and we eventually headed to dinner at the Crab Trap seafood restaurant – I bet you would never have guessed from its name — on N 2nd Street. I can recommend the coconut shrimp.

By the time dinner was finished, the clouds had become dark and menacing, a stiff breeze was rustling the palm fronds. Rain was imminent and we made it to the car across the street just as the first drops of rain began to fall. The subsequent deluge came as we headed to Interstate 95.

©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.