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B&W, Upside Down and Square

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

I sometimes have great difficulty in deciding if an image works better in colour or in b&w...

In the bad old days of film I almost always used b&w film. B&W was cheaper and I could print it in my own darkroom. Colour film was expensive. I always used transparency film as opposed to negatives, because that's what my clients wanted and we thought that transparencies had better quality. It was painstaking and precise work to get the exposure just perfect on transparency as there was no lee way such as with negatives, and only professional labs could make prints...

Eventually I learned to 'see' in b&w and upside down. Upside down because my favourite camera was a 4x5 field camera and the image was upside down on the ground glass...just like it is today except that now (as then) we have a prism to correct the image..

Looking at things in 'b&w' and upside down must have improved my compositional skills. In art class we were taught to turn a picture upside down if we wanted to copy it exactly...I cant remember the exact reason why but I suppose it has something to do with left brain vs right brain...a concept that I still don't quite understand and I am forever having to ask my family if I am left brain or right brain!

Even today when photographing people with my camera on a tripod, after I have focused, I lift my eye up from the camera viewfinder and look at the subject normally...it also helps to see if they close their eyes when the flash pops...The great advantage with a dark, stopped down upside down image on a ground glass is that clients tend not to want to look through your camera all the time...they just cant 'see' the image...sometimes because there was no image because the lens has been 'closed'.... but that's another story.

After the 4x5 my other favourite camera was the square format Mamiya twin lens reflex (and later a Hasselblad 500c). I like the square format for people....somehow they just fit in better with a nice space around them. Today I have to crop to get a square image and I must say I don't intentionally shoot with a crop in mind later but I suppose somewhere buried deep inside my 'photography' mind the decision does take place that I should crop it square later and then I frame it subconsciously that way..

Anyway here are three square cropped b&w images from my journey to Greylingstad as shown in my previous post here ...http://www.ivanmuller.co.za/blog-item/greylingstad-mpumalangaa-trial-run

regards, Ivan

B&W, Upside Down and Square
B&W, Upside Down and Square
B&W, Upside Down and Square
Created: Thu, 06/12/2012 - 13:37

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