The Other Monochrome

OR-0905-2015-007 WPCWhen 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


4 thoughts on “The Other Monochrome”

  1. Bill-
    Your skill and experience with B&W shines in this photo. I love leaves- the veins, insect gnawings, edges, textures of this life-giving Nature-made machine (nachine?) is one of the most wondrous things on Earth… your photo tells the story. Well done.

    1. Jane, thanks so much. I’ve always been attracted to their character(s), and lately I can’t seem to walk down to get the mail without stopping several times to retrieve new subjects, especially in autumn. If you check my posts from last year forward, you’ll see what I mean. No plans to stop, either. Thanks again, Bill.

      1. I see what you mean, Bill. I just walked through part of your leaf pile… could almost catch the smell and hear the crunch 😉 Magnificent!

        I, too, have been artistically drawn to leaves. This link is to a tile mural I created to fill the most desolate place in my home with wonder. People kidded me for putting a tree in my laundry room. What do you think? The leaves also flow onto my kitchen walls above the counters. I’m currently creating some more 3-D leaves to add to the tree.

      2. If I were English I’d be gobsmacked by your Big Leaf Maple…Wow. THAT is artistry. And no raking! I’ll write you sometime and ask about the clay process; I’ve considered ways to print photos of my collection and transfer them to “something else” for hanging, but haven’t yet found anything my thumbs wouldn’t fumble. And thanks for checking that pile; it only gets bigger!

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