Having new eyes…
“The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
– Marcel Proust, French novelist, critic, and essayist (10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922)
I usually don’t travel very far to shoot landscapes. For the past several years aside from the occasional trip to Jasper my photographic forays have usually been no farther than a twenty minute drive from my driveway.
The countryside that I photograph has become like my back yard. When the light is changing fast or the clouds are moving to a different location I know what lies over the next hill or around the next corner.
The changing of the seasons and even more quickly the changing of light and weather during the early part of the day can greatly influence how differently the same place can look from minute to minute, day to day and month to month.
My color photography had become too predictable over the past two years. My interest in it had waned to the point of not having any interest in getting out with camera in hand but that has changed.
Now when I lie in bed at night before sleep comes I will go over familiar places and imagine how differently the possibilities might be in black and white. Thinking in black and white has made the old suddenly become new.
Buildings and fields that I would never have given a second thought to now have potential. Seeing in black and white is for me very different from seeing in color. Doing both a certain amount of pre-visualization is necessary. Seeing in color I can within limits see how far I can take the landscape. Seeing in black and white the possibilities are greatly expanded.
One of the biggest differences that I have noticed is the color quality of light. Where it was ultra important to me in color it is a distraction in black and white. Instead of paying close attention to color it is only the direction and strength of it that matters. So much more can be done in post processing for black and whites.
The photo at the top of this post is something that I would never have attempted in color because I know that it would have lacked the impact that the black and white has. That is not to say that I have given up on color because that won’t happen. There is no way that I would pass up on a great color scene if I came across one but with the need to be up before sunrise not necessary to shoot black and whites that probably won’t happen often.
It’s all about having new eyes. Marcel Proust said it almost one hundred years ago and today it’s as relevant as ever.