Someone asked me about buying a Leica. “Should I get the monochrome or the color version?” “Get the color,” I said. “If you need or want it you are covered especially with assignment work.” If you asked me what kind of photographer I am I might answer “Long-form, black and white, doc shooter.” You see, the black and white way of seeing the world is ingrained in me, has been since 1988. Fixer stained hands, nose red from chemicals and small squares of Tri-X boxes quietly tucked into the slot on the back of my FM2.
For me, black and white is about form more than anything else. Eyes on shadows, always. What can I get away with? How black is too black? Form and moment, ya, form and moment. Less refrain from hiding out midday when the sun is cruel and harsh and unforgiving. Just keep plugging, saying goodbye to the highlights as they drift off as visual vapor. I never liked you. I never needed you. Turning to see the world from behind, light splintered and edged and rimmed around those special moments.
Temperature is real. Direction, time of day and the frugalness color chooses to provide. These images made seconds apart. Front to back, sun to shade. This is what color is about. Harnessing, accessing and tuning like a 1980s Fiat. Driving so sound and pure, silky even. And then it dies. Gone for hours and hours, days even, and there is nothing you can do but wait.
There is no purpose with these photographs other than to feed the mental machine. Repetition. Especially with a new machine in hand. There is the courting process that must transpire. Getting you know you and you me. How do you feel under my hands, my fingers, my face pressed to yours? A first date, a second, and more before a real relationship begins. Hot to cold, study the light. Study the direction, the temperature and accentuate the beauty being provided. Watching the shadows retreat as the sun wraps and blue turns to brown to yellow and red.
I’ll stick with my “interchangeable sensor” Leicas 😉
BTW. A couple nights back I had a fragment of a dream where we happened to meet in a rather small aeroplane en route to some “exotic” location, and when we got there I noted it’s quite photogenic, better grab your camera, and when I opened my bag you grabbed my M2 with a 35/2 and snapped away half a roll (HP5+ EI 3200 I told you) before I got my Gossen out to take a reading.
I need to keep practicing reading the light so I can keep up with your speed if one day this happens in real life (you still left me with the M4 and 50/2).
If you are dreaming about me there is a problem…
I found it quite refreshing. Usually the cast of my surreal nightly adventures consists of random elementary school classmates. And no photography at all.
Hey, as long as you are getting out!
“goodbye to the highlights as they drift off as visual vapor”