Changing Light, Part 1: Velvia
I get asked sometimes how do I decide between color and black-and-white. I don’t remember where I heard this, but a long time ago somebody told me that if color is important to the scene then it should be a color picture, and if it’s not it should be black-and-white. Back then you had to make this decision before loading your camera with 24 or 36 exposures. Nowadays you can wait until after capturing the picture before deciding, although I find it best to choose before making the exposure.
Color pictures are (primarily) about three things: light, shadow and color. Black-and-white pictures are (primarily) about two things: light and shadow. It’s easy to see that if color isn’t an essential element to the picture, then it only serves as a distraction to light and shadow; however, that’s an oversimplified way of looking at it. There are many different color theories, and whether color is important or unimportant is highly subjective. One thing is for certain: black-and-white pictures are about light and shadow and those in-between grays.
Whenever I photograph in monochrome my mentality changes. They way that I look at the scene is different. When I photograph in color, I look for color. When I photograph in black-and-white, I look for tones. That’s why it’s important for me to decide before capturing the picture whether it will be color or not. For the pictures in this article, I decided that they needed to be monochrome. I chose my Ilford HP5 Plus film simulation recipe because I thought it would offer me the right amount of contrast. It’s not my most contrasty black-and-white recipe, but it has a good amount of contrast—not too much or too little. I think it was a great choice for these scenes.
I captured these pictures over the last several days from my house. I didn’t go anywhere. There were a lot of clouds and the light on the mountain was constantly changing. Oftentimes it was rather dull, but sometimes it was amazing! The camera I used was a Fujifilm X-T30. Most often I used a Fujinon 100-400mm lens, but occasionally I used a Fujinon 90mm. These longer focal lengths allowed me to “bring close” the mountain, making it appear as though I was in them, and not at a distance. Sometimes you don’t have to go anywhere to capture interesting pictures. That’s especially true if you have a great view where you are.
See also: Film Simulation Reviews
Wow with these kind of views from home or nearby being isolated in lock-down seems more like a blessing than a curse …. great images ….. set me back to my first visits to the Scottish Highlands when my B&W film to go to was Kodak Tri-X shot and processed as 800 ASA/ISO 30 DIN in Promicrol for it’s specific or rather characteristic grain (long before the digital era)
Wow, sounds like wonderful photographic adventures!
I am interested in the 100-400 lens.Are the photos still crispy at 400 mm?
No, it’s pretty good to about 350mm or so, and becomes a little soft after that. Still usable to 400mm, but there’s a noticeable difference in sharpness (when you look closely) between 350mm and 400mm. I do cover this in my review of the lens.
Hi Ritchie, of all your film simulation recipes I think I’ve used Ilford HP5 Plus the most. Although I shot mostly Tri-X and T-Max in my film days (the 80s), I believe that had I known about HP5+ back then, I would have used that film instead.
You put this film simulation to good use in capturing the drama created by the white-dusted mountains with cloud and fog.
Thanks! I’m glad you like it. I’ve shot HP5+ a little, but it was mostly a different Ilford film that I used (Delta). I wish that I had used Tri-X more.