COLOR

Café Life

Parisians will hang out on the sidewalks even in winter, but warmer weather makes sitting at a café table even more of a pleasure, I'd say a must. Some do it in chatty company, some do it in lonely concentration. I'll never tire of watching them go about their business as I walk by. And from time to time it's good to take a break and join them.

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With the approaching summer, the sun has gained strength and made photography tougher. I was born in late fall, harsh light is not my friend, heat even less so. I'm not sure what I'd do if you put me in Cuba, shooting on a David Alan Harvey workshop...

Color however continues to question my eyes, teasing me to try and try again. I'm not done with my experimenting. I've not been very inspired and prolific this past few weeks, but a bunch of images has built up in my 'inbox' and I finally got around to editing them. Here's a few...

Color People

Or simply, people. As much as I was trying, during these sessions, to shoot not just IN color but FOR color, the pull of the subject was often stronger than that of the colors. One does not put aside an ingrained approach to subjects and composition that has for years deliberately ignored color as part of the visual language.

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Arguably, some if not many of the images in this series, starting perhaps with the woman in the opening frame above, are not good enough from a color perspective, if by "color perspective" one means the predominance of color as a composition element if not as the central subject of the image per se. 

I'm not saying here that color HAS to be the central subject. It can also be used a way to focus the attention on the central subject of an image, when the definition of "subject" is dictated by other factors. And it's definitely great when color becomes a (sometimes subtle) way to define the mood of an image or a series, almost cinematically (for this, see this blogpost by Patrick LaRoque in Montreal, Canada: his blog is a valuable learning tool for me). 

On the other hand, a purely factual and/or documentary but non-assumed and random presence of color is, at least in my mind, less interesting — at best neutral and at worst a potential distraction from other elements of the image.

So, look at this gallery and ask yourself (and let me know, if you have a moment): which images "work" (alone or within the series) and why? One thing is sure on my end here: learning to shoot and edit for color after so much time spent on BW will be a long process...

Color Windows

Summertime has come to Paris well ahead of time, albeit I suppose just temporarily. The light has suddenly changed, almost Mediterranean in its harshness. It's difficult to adapt so fast to the new deep shadows and to the suddenly bright color palette that the city has dressed herself with.

The visual shock brings a renewed jolt of creative juices, calling me again to the tempting world of color photography.

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It's a Copernican revolution, and it will take some time to decide whether this different language is one I can express my trues self in. 

On the one hand, straying from BW makes me think I'm polluting my visual signature, and makes be abandon the sound principles of never-ending quest for improvement of a core technique that is behind much of the work philosophy I admire in countless Japanese craftsmen.

On the other, great masters of the history of photography at some point in their careers have moved from BW to color (rarely the opposite I guess) as a way to reawaken their vision, to find new creative avenues. Learn this from them, too...

The debate could never end, but what's the point of debating with myself. Just follow the gut, and the gut lately has been asking for this challenge. 

So here's a fresh series, on a theme I've endlessly loved: a window pane, and what lies behind it, sometimes forgotten. Take a peek...