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  • Betty Girardeau

The World Used to Be Black and White


Years ago when I would be looking through old photo albums with my children, and I really do mean OLD ones, I would tell them that when I was a child the world was in black and white and not in color. The younger they were, the more they absolutely believed me. But, of course, that story, just like the ones about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, were later deeply questioned. As we get older and, hopefully, wiser we learn that nothing is really black and white...unless we make it so. And I would suggest that that is really a very bad idea because, in so doing, you will miss out on too much. Just look at the picture that goes with this post. It is an image that I took recently when I had the opportunity to have a photography morning out with a local photographer in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We were blessed with freshly fallen snow. Living in east Tennessee I sadly get very few opportunities to photograph snow and, then, it is never "real" snow, the snow I remember so well from growing up in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. Once we reached the photo location, Carla, my guide, gave me wise pointers on how to get great snow shots. If you don't take time to work with exposure and compensation, you can end up with snow images that are either too bright and washed out or where the snow looks too grey. What you need to capture are all the nuances of white to black. In the image above there are a multiple of gradations from white to black, highlighted more so because when I was post processing, I thought this image was stronger if converted to black and white. Color became a distraction, even when it was almost hardly visible amidst all that white snow and the silhouettes of trees and random foliage. Take the time to look at this image...really LOOK at it. Can you count how many variations there are from true white to true black? I doubt it because I can't. But that's what I think is the important message from black and white images like this. Would this image be as appealing if it were totally black and white with nothing in between? Our world really is never just in black and white as I used to jokingly tell my children. I resolutely believe that we should never allow ourselves to make it so. Look for and learn from the nuances between.

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