352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Black and White and Old Colouration Experiment

As you may have seen throughout the development of my FMP, whilst conducting a wide range of research in order to provide me with inspiration for my project, I looked at a variety of different photographers that experimented with the use of black and white or sepia toned colouration within their images (including practitioners such as John Gossage, Fay Goodwin, Samuel Wright, Alfred Stieglitz’s “Camera Work” collection, and Mikael Levin – please see the blog posts “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Photographic Research”, “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Technical Research”, “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Personal Research” for more in-depth analysis into their work). When looking at these particular individuals, for those that used a black and white colouartion, I pinpointed the fact that this specific technique was (mainly) used to not only remove distracting colourations from image, but to also enhance the natural texture of the landscape subjects they usually depicted, which in turn affected the atmosphere of the photograph. In relation to the individuals that used a sepia tone within their images, when looking at these examples, I soon noticed that this technique was (mainly) employed to represent and enhance the landscapes natural pigments. However, the key, generalized piece of inspiration that I gained from the photographs that used either black and white or sepia colouration, was the fact that this “manipulated” technique could be used by the viewer to reference something in the past through the dated aesthetics they create. I therefore wanted to experiment with the use of these varying colouration techniques as I thought that there was a possibility that the use of this image manipulation within my FMP could act as a symbolic photographic reference to the past events I experienced with my Grandpa (which are now stored within my fading memories), thus enhancing the viewers conceptual understanding of my project.

Below, you will therefore be able to find notes about the “Black and White” and “Old Colouration” experiment (including the equipment and methodology that I used), the images that I created, and a reflection regarding the use of the technique within my FMP:

 


 

Equipment:

  • Final (edited) FMP Images (that were selected and edited the previous day – please see the blog post entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Choosing and Editing the Final Photographs” for more information)
  • Photoshop CS6

 


 

Methodology:

For the methodology of this particular experiment, I considered a couple of different variables in order to allow me to try and recreate the (manipulated) aesthetics of the black and white and sepia images from the pieces of research that I had conducted (as suggested above). This section therefore simply bullet-points some of the factors I considered:

  • As you have seen from the equipment section above, as well as the final photographs that I created for this particular experiment (found below), I decided to simply use my “final”, edited images that I chose to represent the six locations I explored within my FMP
    • This is because, as already mentioned within the previous blog post (please see “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Choosing and Editing the Final Photographs”) I took time looking through all of my Mamiya 7 contact sheets from each of the trips up to the Lake District, and personally found that these images (from each of the locations) where the most aesthetically pleasing (I also, then, spent time editing them to the best of my ability in terms of exposure, colour and cropping)
    • I therefore thought that, as this was the case, (as well as the fact that they wouldn’t need re-editing) I would experiment with both the black and white and sepia colouration of these images in order to see whether these particular techniques added to the narrative and concept represented within the photographs
    • However, bearing this in mind, I also know that the coloration of an image is usually chosen in relation to the subject that the photograph depicts and, if I choose to continue with the use of these coloured techniques throughout the rest of my FMP, I will make sure to spend time re-choosing appropriate “final” images for the colour technique used
  • Now, with regards to the editing of these particular images that I used for both the black and white and sepia experiments, I obviously had to edit them different to gain the desired affect
    • For the black and white colouration technique, I simply opened up each of the images into the Photoshop CS6 software before converting them to black and white and increasing the contrast of the image to 10 (in order to further enhance the texture of the landscapes depicted)
    • In relation to the “old colouration” or sepia images, however, instead of opening up the original “final”, edited image, I instead opened up the recently edited black and white experimentations, before adding a “sepia” photo filter affect (as, due to some brief online research, the sepia photo filter responds better to black and white images rather than colour – please see the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtZ80QAOAVQ)
      • In order to further enhance the aged aesthetics of the image, although I didn’t necessarily observe this technique within my research, similar to the YouTube tutorial included above (although I didn’t follow this tutorial exactly and decided to complete the experiment using a simpler method), I then decided to add a black vignette to the image by using the lens correction tool

 


 

Experiment Photos:

Black and White Images:

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Old Colouration Images:

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After-Thoughts and Reflection:

After looking at the final, edited photographs that I created from both the “Black and White” and “Old Colouration” experiments, although I originally expected them to aid in the viewers conceptual understanding of my project, due to the fact that they could act as a symbolic photographic reference to the past events I experienced with my Grandpa (which are now stored within my fading memories), I personally feel that these techniques are not appropriate to use within my FMP. This is because, although I feel like these techniques where able to successfully adjust the atmosphere of the image, instead of creating a more dramatic and conceptual ambience, they have created an aged, documentarian feel that appears to have removed some of the symbolic, conceptual aesthetics found within the original “final” images (such as the hazy lighting or the use of dramatic shadows). These colour experiments also successfully removed any “distracting” colouration, but in relation to the “final” images that I have created, as suggested in the previous blog post, the soft, tonal colouring of these particular images actually enhance the beauty of the landscape whilst also representing more conceptual associations with the images. Finally, although throughout my research into these particular colouring techniques I suggested that they enhance the natural texture (and pigments) of the landscape, I found that employing these techniques onto my “final” images actually removed the emphasis of these aspects as I think that the original, coloured photographs highlight these landscape features through the natural conditions captured and the editing that I completed.

All-in-all, although these colouartion techniques could be used to enhance the dated aesthetics of the image (thus, briefly symbolizing the concept of returning to the past through the recollection of my personal memories), these techniques greatly affect both the aesthetic and conceptual quality of my final images and so I will not be continuing with the use of this technique throughout the development of my FMP.

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