After first frost, revisited

imageAfter first frost II, Woodbury, Connecticut © Steven Willard

I had an interesting thing happen when I showed Chris the original color version of this image. When she first saw it she said it was a beautiful photograph. Never being one to leave things alone, I thought it would interest her to see where the image was made. She looked and surprised me by anouncing she no longer cared for the image she had just said was beautiful. Now she thought it looked too processed; that it no longer looked real. So we talked about that, and I asked how she thought she would feel about a black and white version. She didn’t know so I offered to convert one as a test. Surprisingly, she now thought the black and white image looked more real. How is that possible? And yet, for many people black and white photographs are still viewed as more real, more honest than processed color images that represent the original colors-even if those colors have only been enhanced (read made more saturated), not substituted for a different color palette.

I had a hard time explaining to her that first the color image I showed her first was pretty close to what I saw in my mind’s eye when I was making the exposure because I knew what was possible, in the same way I can see the potential black and white rendition even before I make that conversion. Am I a freak? Is there something wrong with trying to make an image that gets as close to my vision as possible, even if that version is a departure from the reality of what the camera recorded, if we can call that real? At what point do we no longer accept a version of a color image because the colors don’t look real, but will accept the same image when converted to black and white? For the fun of it here is the original image straight from the camera.


I’m curious to hear any thoughts on this?


4 comments on “After first frost, revisited

  1. So good I hope you don’t mind my using it as wallpaper on my ipad


  2. How could I mind a thing like that!


  3. JohnAmes says:

    In response to your question, I believe a camera is a tool for making photographic images that reflects the particular vision of the person using it. No photograph is “reality” per se. It is merely one person’s feeling about what they are seeing. Cropping, dodging, burning all manipulate the “reality” of the original image and so what. Everyone’s reality is already different right from the get go. We as photographers are lucky when our reality meshes with those looking at our work and a bond is formed. If only for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, but isn’t it interesting that people still often believe that black and white images are somehow more “realistic” than color versions, even when the color palette is in the area of realistic though manipulated?

      Sent from my iPad



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