The Covid-19 pandemic has deeply affected us all. The LHSA Spring Shoot has been postponed, and most of us are doing our part in keeping our distance in an effort to slow down and hopefully stop the virus. Being restricted is not a lot of fun. But there are ways to keep yourself busy with creative work, which can be therapeutic as it gets your mind off of what is going on. Here is something I have done, which you might consider: I went back into some of my files to see whether there are images that can be improved, including looking at images that might be better in black and white.
There has been a good deal of excitement expressed about the Leica M10 Monochrom (M10M) and with good reason. I don’t have an M10M but I do prefer black and white over color in many situations, and black and white conversion in post-processing is an alternative used by many. Color can be distracting. After all, we see lots of colors in images, with our eye sometimes darting from one swatch to another, while in black and white the eye is more drawn to form and structure and light and shadow without the sometimes distracting color information. Black and white often have more impact. However, what is compelling to one person, may not be to another; it is a matter of personal taste. I went back to one of my images, a “landscape” of buildings in Edinburgh, Scotland. Originally from an M9 and in color, I converted to B&W with the DXO Nik Silverefex2 tool. I strongly prefer the black and white image. Does that make one image “better” than another? Or just different? In my view, the black and white here conveys the grittiness of the buildings better than the more “realistic” color image and is a “better” result (click on photos below for a larger view). If you have had a similar experience with black and white vs color going back into your files (or otherwise), show us your comparisons and if we get enough responses, we will put a series up on the LHSA website. Send your images to email@example.com.
There are also many other ways to improve old images. The raw convertors from Adobe and others have improved significantly over the years, as have things like shadow/highlight adjustment. Going back to a file from some years ago and seeing how you can improve it might just take your mind off COVID-19. Even if it is for a few minutes or hours, that is a plus.
Please stay safe and healthy, and let’s try to make efforts to stay in touch with each other even if we are “social distancing.” Call someone you know today and ask how they are doing. The telephone may be old tech but hearing a voice you know is a good thing.
President, LHSA – The International Leica Society