Tag Archives: Black and White Photography

I am terrible at blogging | Japan in Black and White (October 2016)

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I will be first to admit that I am terrible at updating my blog.  I used to have plenty of time to write and rant about my life, and, indeed, I had several blogs that I kept up starting in high school.

Recently, I’ve taken to ranting more than writing, and, I’ll admit, it makes me feel petty and small.

So what have I been up to since my last post in February?  From a travel perspective, I went to Hong Kong once, Colombia once, Maryland twice, New York once, and I have generally been running nonstop with work.  When you are at work for 12 hours a day, come home to eat, and start working as soon as the dishes hit the sink, there’s not much time for…

… pretty much anything else.

(More about Colombia later.)

From a photography perspective, I met a couple of Instagram friends in real life, and we wandered San Francisco together, shooting and posing.  It was super fun to meet them!  I purchased an Epson Perfection v600 Scanner and began attempting to scan things into my computer; I have remained committed to black and white photography (with the exception of 10 days in Colombia, but more on that some other time).  And, every chance I get, I try to pull out my trusty Canon AE-1 to capture some shots.

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Life has been fun.  Life has been busy.

And, if I’m frank with myself, it’s been hard to stop and breathe.

But it’s the little things that are supposed to count, right?  So let’s take it one step at a time, and, when I get enough sleep, that’s not too difficult.  It’s when I don’t sleep enough that things get dark, and the malaise settles in.

Last night, I got six full hours of sleep.  Success!  And it’s a holiday weekend!  I may be fielding many emails from my Asia Pacific colleagues, but, goshdarnit, I’m gonna keep going!

So let’s talk about Japan, shall we?

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These images are from my last trip to Japan in October 2016, primarily focused around Shinjuku, a district within Tokyo, Japan.

I always try to find time (mornings, evenings, etc.) to wander on my own and take photos.  My boss was traveling with me, but unless we have something planned, he tends to stay in his room and do his own thing when we have larger chunks of free time.

I, for one, like to wander.

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As you can see, before the masses wake up, the streets of Japan are quiet.

As the world wakes up in the land of the rising sun, people begin to populate the streets of Tokyo.

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Japan is a unique town.  Fabulous sushi.  Karaoke in strange, downstairs bars that are filled with smoke and look like a snapshot of an 80s living room.  A nation-wide uniform (black pants, white shirt, everyone; think Mormons).  Interesting architecture.

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And little alleyway udon shops.

Maybe next time I’ll stop and have a bite.

Looking forward to going back to Japan later this year.

// 35mm film photos all taken with a Canon AE-1 on Ilford HP5 400 black and white film. All shots captured in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan in October 2016.

New York, New York (in BW)

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There are some books that are written out of order– they start somewhere in the middle and piece together the various strands of the story into a woven tapestry of scenes, pictures, and images.  Not every moment is recorded, and not every scene is explained, but it all becomes one cohesive whole at the end (or beginning) (or middle).

My blog is much the same way.  It’s mostly linear, but I jump around like a nervous flea, unsure where the next juicy tidbit will be, but sure that it will be delicious when I get there.

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Thus so, too, are my images from New York City.  We had three days to wander this massive city, and everything in memory became jumbled.  Some of it comes back in a rush, focusing on the lightspeoplesoundssmells– the hum of a massive life form that is the city itself.  The crush of people was incredible!

Other memories come back in snippets: of hot steam with a faint stink rising up under my skirt, of aching feet, of glimpses of people who stand out in this town where anything goes.

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And yet, somehow, typical me, I find the pockets of quiet in between the people.  My camera lens is drawn to peace, even when there are actually hordes of people around.

Chris, observing me, once said, “Many people, when they need alone time, they go to the quiet of their homes and spend time by themselves.  You– when you need alone time, you seek out people and spend time with them.  Alone, but not alone.

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He’s right.  I become wrapped in the quiet envelope of space that is all my own. I can be surrounded by people and yet hidden in my own pocket of peace.

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I’ll be back in this City That Never Sleeps for a few days starting this weekend.  Hoping to capture a few more shots of this fabulous city!

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//35mm black and white film photos taken with my Canon AE-1 on Ilford HP5 400 film.  Images were taken in SoHo, Central Park, and the Upper East Side (I think that’s what they’re called).  Captured a few in color, so I may throw those in for good measure in another post.

Embarking on a Black and White Journey

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For those of you who follow me on Instagram in addition to this blog, you already know that, starting January 1 of this year, I started on a new project.

Yes, my friends– I am now shooting in all black and white.

And I am not talking about just converting select color photos to black and white, but actually shooting black and white film.  When all 36 frames in the camera refuse to accept any tint or hue.  Only shades of black, white, and grey.  So many greys.  My current films of choice are Ilford HP5 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400TX.

Why?

To be perfectly frank, I decided to plunge into all black and white because I am hoping to develop (ha, that pun) my photography skills.  I don’t have formal photography training, but that doesn’t mean I can’t improve my skills.  And improving, to me, means developing my eyes.

I want my eyes to think as much as they see.  

When I started shooting film, I noticed that I was putting a lot more thought into my images– into the composition, the why and the what of a shot.  Questions I began asking dealt with the ultimate, future image that was hidden within the case of my Canon AE-1. Thinking.  And I saw myself gradually improving, frame by frame.

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Black and white strips away all the distractions.  The colors, however striking to my naked eye, are gone in the final image.  What’s left behind are the bones of my photo: the subject matter that my eye managed to see.  Was it worth it?  Why did I take this in this fashion?  Was it the texture?  Was it the composition and/or placement of the subject?

Why is such a difficult question to ask.

I’m still looking for what I consider to be “my” style.  I am also looking to explore and expand past the inane, generic photos that flood Instagram in millions every second.  Why should others care about what I’ve chosen to spend time, effort, and money on?  (Truth is, I don’t know why they should care; I certainly don’t care sometimes.)

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It’s a path I walk down, slowly and somewhat uncertainly.

I’m excited, as well, to see what happens.  I recently looked at photos from my very first roll of film, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I was rather terrible with film (washed out, unfocused, etc.).  But I’ve improved, and I am hoping that someday I will look back on my first rolls of black and white film and chuckle at my inexperience as I chase something else that will make me even better.

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35mm film photos taken in Shanghai, China, during my trip out to Shanghai; January 21 and 23, 2017.