Since last October I’ve photographed almost exclusively in black and white. So what’s got me keenly embracing colour photography again?
The black and white phase began with the coinciding of two events – the autumn season and the arrival of a Ricoh GRD III.
I only ever intended to shoot b/w with the Ricoh, and the further acquisitions of a Ricoh GX100 and Pentax Q (let’s call this trio the Ricoh Pentax 3 (RP3)) further embedded this.
Especially as the Q has an excellent on board bold monochrome mode that I can tweak to give me the kind of moody b/w shots I like straight out of camera with no post processing.
Black and white has also been a natural choice for me over these last nine months or so as I’ve continued to strip down and simplify from the excesses of my camera collecting days of two or three years ago.
I find b/w images more direct – the absence of colour means one less layer of complication.
Light and shadow and shapes and textures come even more to the foreground. The raw essence of photography.
Plus with the Pentax Q I’ve been using the images straight from the camera, and even with the two Ricohs and my Xperia phone, I use the same simple Snapseed preset to increase the contrast and mood.
Again, a very straightforward, no frills approach.
Shooting colour previously with a Sony NEX I’d tried dozens, perhaps hundreds, of LightRoom presets.
Many I liked for five minutes, then found another I liked more and wondered whether to go back to the previous images and re-process with the new preset.
I quickly got into a complex web of choices and layers and ever more minuscule adjustments that took the joy of photography away – especially when with film I’d never post processed any photos, just taken them as they were from the lab scans.
I wanted a digital colour approach that was just as direct, consistent, and rewarding as my old film workflow.
Fortunately I found it in the spring of last year with a Pentax K10D DSLR, which combined with the Pentax K and M42 lenses I already had, gave me colours I loved directly from the LightRoom RAW to JPEG exports.
The b/w and RP3 season arrived though, and despite the K10D remaining a game changing digital camera for me (and the one which pretty much put the nail in the coffin of my film photography), the size and handling and interface and performance of the RP3 made me question whether I would ever go back to the bulk and weight and complexity of a DSLR.
So if I was to shoot colour again, it needed to be with one or more of team RP3.
Another happy coincidence was changing my phone from an iPhone to a Sony Xperia. Because my previous processing tool Hipstamatic is iOS only, I had to look for other options for the Android phone.
Setting up presets with Snapseed is super easy. And somehow because the whole app is simple and visual and tactile and phone based, I feel freed from the ridiculous over complexity of LightRoom (which I ditched for other reasons anyway).
Part of this release is from feeling tied to seeking out specific film emulation presets, which aim to make digital images look like they were made with particular film emulsions.
With Snapseed, I didn’t care what had come before with LightRoom. I just wanted a way of taking the already reasonable colours from the RP3 as a starting point and making them a little warmer, a little more nostalgic and a little more memorable.
So I’ve set up a “warm colour” preset in Snapseed I’ve started to use to make colour photographs again.
Now, rather than take a colour image and then face the daunting interface and thousand and one preset options of LightRoom, I already know what the final image is going to look like, from having that single simple Snapseed preset I’m familiar with.
Shooting now, with those processing decisions already made, I can contemplate the colours before me more freely again, without the kind of pre-emptive decision-heavy baggage the LightRoom workflow was giving me.
In time, I’d like to use the Pentax Q’s on board settings to create and store a similar “warm colour” look in camera, as I’ve done with the Bold Monochrome settings.
Which I feel is entirely possible – the depth of controls within the camera is mind blowing. With this in place, the Q – for b/w and colour – is comfortably the only camera I need.
What are your thoughts about shooting colour? Do you go for a consistent look across all photographs, or does it vary?
Please let us know in the comments below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.