Flash of Red February 5-11

posted February 5th, 2018
Well, your first four days of black and white are behind you. Did you enjoy looking for lighting conditions which brought out contrast in your photos? I find these types of exercises really fine-tune my ability to see a photo. I hope the additional reading helped you along as well. This week I’m including some excerpts by David duChemin of Craft and Vision ( https://craftandvision.com/ ) to get us started on the next leg of the journey. Both Color and Black and White photography evoke a feeling or response from the viewer. But because of their intrinsic (and obvious!) differences the two genres appeal to us in different ways. DuChemin approaches this subject by quoting a well-known artist:

Painter Robert Henri (1865–1929) admonished his students to “Paint the spirit of the bird in flight, not its feathers.” His words have echoed with me since I heard them, joining photographer David Alan Harvey’s plea: “Don’t shoot what it looks like, shoot what it feels like.”

He continues:

There’s a place in photography for the merely illustrative to show the world what a thing, person, or place looks like. At one point that was the primary role of the photographer: to go into the world where others might never go, and to report back with “what it looks like.” Or, similarly, to make portraits and create a likeness. But in 100 years, we’ve come to the point where nearly every corner of this world has been photographed, and at a minimum, most every person documented annually throughout their lives, if not selfie'd to the point of absurdity. There is less and less call for us to show anyone what anything looks like. We already know. Few of us really need more illustration, although the camera still does that very well.

What we need, and have always needed, is interpretation and inspiration. We don’t need to know what it looks like (whatever it is), but what it might mean—what it might feel like. More than ever, we need images that speak to a deeper part of our humanity than the thirst for details. We need, and hunger for, for context, insight, hope, and the kind of visual poetry that stirs our hearts, sparks our imaginations, churns our stomachs, or light a fire in us.

DuChemin continues to observe that the general drive for more digital data and accuracy (i. e. mega-mega-mega pixels and super sharpness) are really not what a viewer responds to when they look at a picture. It is how that picture moves their heart. He states, “I used to wish people had more passion, but that’s not the problem at all; there’s passion aplenty out there…We don’t need better tools and we don’t need more passion. We need direction and something to say with the tools and the passion. If you want to photograph “what it feels like,” you have to experience that feeling. And the more deeply you experience it, the more you can put that into the photographs you make. It’s hard to do this at the beginning. How do you experience something deeply while also giving 100% of your attention to the buttons and dials and the histogram and the depth of field?... by the time you’re done you’d be happy just to have the camera in focus, right? At the beginning it’s hard enough to shoot what it looks like. What it feels like?!”

But here is where some of the elements of composition can actually help us accomplish the goal of producing more feeling in our photograph. If we’re paying attention to lines, shape or space for instance, and how those elements balance out a picture, draw emphasis to the subject or their proportion within the picture, we are going to get a sense or a feeling of our subject in a new and creative way. Due to its very nature of contrast these elements can become even more visible and prominent in black and white photography. Choose one of those elements this week (line, shape or space) and watch how they work with your subject/subjects and what kinds of feelings they bring out. Tag your photos flashofred2018.

Additional reading:
If you bought my book, read through the sections covering line, shape and space under compositional elements and balance, emphasis and proportion in the section on design elements.

https://www.slideshare.net/ballardgraphicdesign/elements-and-principles-of-design-in-photography

http://www.instructables.com/id/Photographic-Composition-Elements/

Do you have a favorite shot from your first four days? Why not share in the discussion thread below.

posted February 5th, 2018


I'll start you off with this shot, choosing it as my favorite of the first four days (although the marbles came in at a very close second!). It was inspired by an inverted shot by @northy. I thought it was a very creative way to accomplish a high contrast black and white shot!
posted February 5th, 2018
Jackie's gum tree @30pics4jackiesdiamond

posted February 5th, 2018
Kind of lots of contrasts here, but not really high or low key.
posted February 5th, 2018
I liked my first shot but took this today and the snow and white farm buildings lent so much to the high key effect that I really loved the outcome!
posted February 5th, 2018
Oh my word Ann, the words you have shared by David DuChemin spoke directly to my heart and have really inspired me for this week! Thank you.

My favourite from the first 4 days has to be my Potjie Pot:
posted February 5th, 2018
I am really enjoying this challenge. I find that B&W photography forces us to pay attention to details that make the photo. We cannot rely on colour to cover up the blemishes.
I preferred my high key shots to the low key shots I took this week.

posted February 5th, 2018
Thank you for showing my Aussie gum tree!!! I'm so pleased I remembered phone has a camera and can convert to B&W so I can ( sort of) join in!!!
posted February 5th, 2018
@olivetreeanne found her marbles



@annied please see above comment x
posted February 5th, 2018
Thanks for last week's challenge, I think I got a step further in understanding low and high key (although I still sometimes use the terms the wrong way around despite having worked out which is which!) I had a go at portraits - and so can particularly appreciate this one from Tracy:

posted February 5th, 2018
@olivetreeann - thanks for organising the challenge Ann. Here is my favourite from last week.

posted February 5th, 2018
https://365project.org/karasoo2/365/2018-02-03
This is my favorite of the last four days.
posted February 5th, 2018
@olivetreeann Thank you for the info and advice. I am beginner and as you said, I often am worried about my camera settings etc rather than capturing the feeling of what I might be experiencing. I will try the challenge again this week. Thanhs!
posted February 5th, 2018
This is when I felt that I was beginning to understand how to set my camera to get a low key shot.
posted February 5th, 2018
@olivetreeann Thanks for doing this, Ann. Great reading.
posted February 5th, 2018
@adi314 the link should read https://craftandvision.com/ - without the bracket at the end.
posted February 5th, 2018
@salza thank you sally
posted February 5th, 2018
@olivetreeann Thank you Ann for setting this challenge. I really enjoyed it last tie and it is making me think even more this time. I am also looking for things around the house that I haven't used previously as our weather has not been great recently and I am also busy with work.

Here is my favourite from the 4 photos as it is one of the things I haven't seen for a while and really want to find out about its origins now.
posted February 5th, 2018
@salza @adi314
It's been corrected.
posted February 5th, 2018
@annied @pandorasecho @jackies365 @dibzgreasley @farmreporter @helenhall @nicolecampbell @jacqbb @dlovinger @daisymiller @adi314 @salza @mandygravil

Loved reading everyone's comments and seeing the pictures you chose. I'm glad you're all getting something out of the reading- it's been good reading for me too!
posted February 5th, 2018
@olivetreeann Thanks for the David Alan Harvey quotes. Very inspiring. The push I need
posted February 5th, 2018
i probably prefer one of my high key images, but am most pleased with this one, as i find low key shots much more of a challenge than high key ones ... thank you so much ann for all the time you spend on flash of red ... it's so inspiring for me :)


posted February 5th, 2018
Thanks for all the information and reading sites. Although, now I may be more confused than ever. Smile.
posted February 5th, 2018
@olivetreeann
Thanks for all the links...Really helpful...And for all the thought you have given to this.
posted February 6th, 2018
@helenm2016 @pistache @henrir @granagringa

Thanks for the feedback and sharing your pictures!

Henri please feel free to ask questions if you're confused about something or need a point clarified- I'll do my best to answer them.
posted February 6th, 2018
@olivetreeann
Ann - a quick question. Do you take your photos in colour and then convert them to B&W after you have done all your post processing or do you take your photos in B&W?
I have heard both sides of this argument and perhaps this is a question you should tackle with the whole group.
posted February 6th, 2018
@farmreporter Yes, I take my photos in color and then convert afterwards. I do cover the two different approaches in my book. Since the arguments are more technical than artistic I hadn't thought about covering it as a weekly topic. The short answer is that it's a personal choice for each photographer. You can easily switch the camera to black and white and for some that's very helpful. I like having the option to either keep a shot in color or go black and white. I also find that being more attentive to the color actually keeps me more attentive to contrast and light- which is very important to black and white. Even when I know I'm going to convert to black and white I still shoot in color. But some prefer to go for the black and white right from the start. To me the bottom line is a personal one. I will see if I can find something for additional reading.
posted February 6th, 2018
@farmreporter @olivetreeann
Hi Wendy, just thought I'd add my two pennies...
I have tried both approaches. This year, I'm shooting in RAW and in colour and converting.
This way is a little harder I think as it does mean that I have to look at each image with regards to the compositional elements to see if it will work in b&w. I often just do a quick conversion in LR to see and then if it looks like it will work, I process it further to achieve what I want (contrast, exposure etc).
posted February 6th, 2018
These archways and the mirror caught my eye on our recent visit to Blackpool Tower - the lines, curves and texture convert to b&w nicely I think!

posted February 6th, 2018
posted February 6th, 2018
I liked the way this one converted to b&w - the arches look much more dramatic!

posted February 6th, 2018
@lyndamcg Oh, yes- having seen the color version I'd say converting to b & w really brought out some drama in the shot. The color is nice, but the b & w is great! The first shot is good too.

@houser934 Smile for the day!

@dibzgreasley Have yet to be compelled to shoot in RAW but I think that would be my second choice for the reason you said that it really makes you think about the shot. Thanks for the second opinion (and a good one too!).
posted February 7th, 2018
@olivetreeann Ann, I've just been catching up on your post, those words by David duChemin are such an inspiration, thank you for sharing them with us.
This is my favourite from the first four days, converting this to b&w and editing it to look more low key really brought out the patterns on the beach.


posted February 7th, 2018


I have enjoyed this challenge so much. It has been a huge learning opportunity for me, making me learn new camera skills. This is my favorite for the first 4 days. Ann, this discussion for days 5-11 is very exciting for me. I’m so glad I bought your book. It is helping me understand so much more about the techniques and options for black and white photography. Thank you!
posted February 8th, 2018
@inthecloud5 Beautiful picture Christine! The beach and the clouds are just captivating.

@louannwarren Thank you Lou Ann! I'm so glad the book is helping you and that you're enjoying learning about black and white.
posted February 8th, 2018


Nice challenge! i only tried one shot, but I will follow the rest of the month!
posted February 8th, 2018
@caterina Lovely addition to our thread Caterina! The lighting is beautiful and I really like how it gives dimension to the flower.
posted February 10th, 2018
posted February 13th, 2018
@lyndamcg I love how you processed this Lynda!
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