Callanish Stones in Black and White

Callanish 2
Callanish 2

I was quite pleased with the color images in my previous post, especially given that they are from negatives over 30 years old. However, when I made prints for a print critique session, I was surprised by everyone's reaction: “Make them in black and white.” The subject is the stones, their forms and textures, they said, not the color. So I made a black and white version of each, which you see here. Quite a different feeling in black and white! Why is that?

This is what I think occurs when viewing black and white photos. By removing color, an image is one step removed from reality. It is partially abstracted, and the viewer reacts differently to the image because of this abstraction. With black and white, the viewer's imagination plays a bigger role, much like the way a radio drama can engage the listener's imagination in ways that television can't.

I still like the color versions, but for me the black and white versions have a stronger impact. They are mysterious and mystical. To put it simply, the color image is closer to what I saw when I was there; the black and white is closer to what I felt.

What are your thoughts? Which version do you like better, the color or the black and white? Why?


Scanned Slides of Milford Sound, New Zealand

Here is another discovery I made while sifting through decades of my old slides. I found slides of Milford Sound in New Zealand from a trip in 1989. Rain-drenched mountains rise steeply from the water, with clouds swirling above them and below. How uninteresting these photos would have been if the sun were shining! They would have been ordinary postcard shots. The dyes in many of these slides  had partially faded, leaving an uneven magenta or blue cast to them. Since they were almost monochromatic, conversion to black and white seemed the way to go. Four images are in the Milford Sound, NZ gallery on my website.