oak boughs

A challenge for our New Year’s morning walk; we’ve set our cameras to black and white. The ‘Art Filter’ on my Olympus E-M10II also mimics the grain of 35mm film, so this takes me back to my art college days when we’d process the film and make 10 x 8 inch prints of the more successful images.

Working with a digital camera has the advantage that you get to see the subject in black and white in the viewfinder, so you’re more aware of tonal values as you compose your shot. The mossy boughs of this oak in Coxley Wood look suitably Tolkienesque in colour but grainy monochrome gives a starker, documentary feel to the image.


These ivy stems climbing a willow by the beck that emerges at the foot of the Balk in Netherton also benefit from black and white which emphasises the writhing lines. I wonder if I’ll be able to resist turning them into an iPad drawing? It would be lovely to draw in digital pen (or ordinary pen for that matter).

We could have just gone out with our cameras set to colour and we’d have had more control over the transfer to black and white using Photoshop but I don’t think that we’d have been looking for subjects in the same way.

cement mixer

This vintage cement mixer at the newly reconstructed Coxley Mill Engine House is exactly the kind of subject that used to attract me when we were sent out with a Pentax – my favourite camera at the time – on the intensive three-week photography course at the Royal College of Art. Even so, I decided to crop the photographs that I took this morning in a square format, which is taking me back to my first ever camera, an Ilford Sprite – I still remember that it cost 27 shillings and sixpence – which took 127mm roll film with a square format.

Once again this subject, a much-used cement mixer, works well in grainy black and white, as it brings out the rusty, crusty textures.

And naturally, finding myself reverting to retro mode, I couldn’t resist a neighbour’s Volkswagen Beetle.

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