Tuesday, June 23, 2009

She Comes In Colors Everywhere

She comes in colors everywhere
She combs her hair
She’s like a rainbow
Coming colors in the air
She comes in colors

She’s a Rainbow

If you took all the girls I knew when I was single
And brought them all together for one night
I know they’d never match my sweet imagination
Everything looks worse in black and white


The lyrics on There Goes Rhymin’ Simon differed in wording from those on the The Concert in Central Park and Paul Simon’s Concert in the Park, August 15, 1991 albums. The former said, "...everything looks worse in black and white," but the latter said, "...everything looks better in black and white."

Wikipedia entry for Kodachrome

Yesterday Kodak announced they are retiring Kodachrome film. The decision is featured in the New York Times photography blog: Shoptalk: Kodachrome Celebrated, Terminated

Most of my involvement with photography has been with black and white photography and I came to terms with that going away a long time ago. I’m not particularly freaked out to see Kodachrome going away. I spent a while, yesterday, lamenting that film itself is going away, but I’ve pretty much come to terms with that a long time ago, too. I posted about photography most recently in My Autographed Photograph Of Virginia Wade—1 and in My Autographed Photograph Of Virginia Wade—2.

I don’t like to just sit around lamenting, even if there’s something worth lamenting. I’d rather do something with whatever I’m feeling. Make something. Create something—happy or sad or whatever—that didn’t exist before I was moved to feel whatever it was that I felt.

So I decided yesterday to make some pictures. For old time’s sake I decided to make some photographs.

With no particular ideas in mind, I went for a walk looking for any images that might catch my attention. An off-the-cuff photo safari of sorts.

I wasn’t thinking of videos or drawings or images in general. I was just thinking of still photos. More than that, too, I was thinking black and white pictures. That is, I was thinking of values and contrasts and arrangements of that kind of stuff.

I took this picture of a broken tree:

And I took this picture of some flowers next to a building:

I haven’t done any black and white photography for years and years but it was kind of fun to try and remember the kinds of thinking I used to do to create images like this.

The first weird part of my photography adventure yesterday is that I didn’t use any photography equipment.

I took the pictures with my phone. I cropped them and adjusted the images using Microsoft Office’s Picture Manager.

The pictures aren’t as sharp as they could be—I used my phone!—and they’re not exactly textbook examples of the Zone system—I tweaked them with office software, not Photoshop!—but to my eyes they look reasonably cool, they look like reasonably pleasant artifacts from an off-the-cuff afternoon walk.

It’s hard to miss the old days when you can do stuff like this so easily these new days.

The second weird part of my photography adventure yesterday came after I made those two black and white images. I went back to the original source pics from my phone and cropped/tweaked color versions.

Here is the tree pic re-done in color:

And here are the flowers in color:

Even though I spent years and years doing black and white photography, and even though I like the drama and simplicity of black and white images, I like these color versions better.

The whole story of the images changes for me with color added.

For the tree pic I love the diagonal movement of the scattering of green plants from upper left to lower right. That is completely lost in the black and white version.

And the flower pic in color looks to me like a struggle, with the organic flowers and leaves fighting, pushing back, at the stone, cement and bricks.

In the black and white versions I saw the contrasts, saw the value differences and liked the composition, but I never saw the content as dynamically as I did when I looked at the images in color.

She comes in colors everywhere
She combs her hair
She’s like a rainbow
Coming colors in the air
She comes in colors

Photography is cool.

I’m not happy waving goodbye to Kodachrome, but I’m not too sad, either. It was a great product in a different world—a lost world.

But the magic of Kodachrome isn’t going away.

The magic of Kodachrome just has been transmogrified and hidden away in phones and computers and the silicon chips behind modern camera lenses.

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