Today I was wondering how on earth I can get any satisfaction from photographing anything. It was like I could throw my camera into lake and shout the most famous Finnish curse words until my voice gets sore. It feels like it’s totally unfair to have to live in a place which is almost dark most of the year, or raining when it’s not dark. There just doesn’t seem to be much to take pictures of. Everything is grey and gloomy. Or is there?
From music creation I remember one rule that seems to apply to photography as well. Limitations are sometimes the source of inspiration. With certain limitations you really have to push the capabilities and opportunities you have harder. That in mind I noticed that if I take my photographs in black & white, that gloominess can be an asset. When you don’t have beautiful and colourful flowers, no people walking around and very few places to go, you have no other choice but to photograph the greyness around you.
Finland is a beautiful place, but when living here, one tends to remember only three seasons – autumn, winter and spring. There is a summer between there somewhere, but it’s usually so short that you’re busy doing other things than wonder the nature around you. It seems also be true that during summer when you think you have plenty of opportunities and places to go for photographing, you take the same pictures every single year. I looked at my Lightroom catalog and noticed that every summer there are some things that I seem to take pictures of – and it’s boring. So, a season when everything seems ugly, it’s easier to see something different from the usual suspects.
When testing different manual focus lenses I have I also noticed that on Sony a7R it’s easier to focus in black & white. I’m setting the peaking colour to red and take my pictures as RAW+JPEG. The camera then takes both black & white and colour photographs at the same time, but when focusing I see everything in black & white. Seeing the world around you in black & white makes you look for different things and you realise that not everything has to be beautiful to be photographed. Some day I will challenge myself to take the ugliest photographs I can by walking around the city.
Next time when you’re out of inspiration and you have a feeling that you have photographed everything nearby, try shooting black & white for a while. It truly can make a difference. I recently bought myself a Minolta X-700 film camera which is also a course in your self-restraint. Every photo you take costs something, not a lot, but still something, so you realise you cannot go out on streets shooting your camera like a machine gun.