When I saw the theme for this week’s Photo Challenge—monochromatic—my conditioned brain said “That’s black and white,” and the leaf shown here was developed to accompany my post. I didn’t think about color for a second, until I read further and was reminded of the definition of monochrome—a photograph or picture developed or executed in black and white or in varying tones of only one color. So, while I presented two shots in color, just thinking about B&W reminded me of how I started out in photography. They’re nice memories.
The first rolls of film I shot on 35mm were a combination of Tri-X, Plus-X, and Panatomic-X; this was during the early 1970s, when Kodak was still The Great Yellow Father. I wasn’t attracted to black and white because I saw things in a range of gray tones, but because it was cheap. I was just another poor student who didn’t give color a thought. I’d go out at any time of the day (and night) just to enjoy shooting. Anything could be interesting when it only cost pennies.
Later, after I discovered the pleasures of Kodachrome slide film, I continued using black and white, but not as often. After a while I abandoned it altogether (it was never a close relationship, honestly), and though I kept the reels and tanks and graduates from my darkroom just in case, their futures weren’t long. I loved the pictures, but hated the process.
The better part of those early experiences was earning an appreciation for black and white. Color wasn’t, and isn’t, better, it is different, and vice versa. I think that fits into the definition of monochrome pretty well.
Photography is a medium, a language, through which I might come to experience directly, live more closely with, the interaction between myself and nature. —Paul Caponigro