Colour beguiles you and can be a sly mistress that easily conceals or misleads. In the words of famed street photographer Daidō Moriyama, I find colour obscene. It carries such strong emotions and in most cases, does all the work for you.
A black and white image, has to stand on its own merits and it takes all the principles and elements of design to make a shot work. You are not relying on colour to do the work for you and therefore, there is, strangely enough, more passion for me in a black and white photograph than in a colour saturated one.
And then I visited Antelope Canyon in Arizona. How quickly did I take a tumble off my monochromatic/black and white/desaturated high horse? The shapes and play of light on those rock formations absolutely begged me to slide that saturation slider all the way to the right.
I had to however (because I’m hard headed) go through the motions of first processing the first few images in black and white to answer my own questions: “Would it be a successful shot if there was no colour? Does it have the same emotional impact?”
It was then that I realized to my dismay that I have become a black and white photography snob. I had unconsciously believed for years, that there was only artistic merit to be found in black and white images.
“What I saw was that the colour image had more information in it, simple as that! There was so much more to see and consider, whereas black and white reduced the world to shades of grey.” – Joel Meyerowitz
Even though I was quite happy with how the initial images turned out in black and white, it was only once I started processing them in colour, that I was audibly blown away by what I captured during a frenetic rush through the canyons. Yes, I admit. Some of these made me whimper just a little bit.
If you’ve ever visited and were, like me, too cheap to fork over the gazillion dollah they asked for the photography tour, you’ll know that they herd the groups through at an alarming rate. There is no time to setup a shot or to linger and expect the light to change, or wait for fellow tourists to skedaddle out of your frame.
The unfavourable and unforeseen circumstance forced me to change my plan on what to shoot and how to capture the sensual beauty of those rocks and for that, I am pretty thankful. It would have been just another predictable set of slot canyon images as shot by countless other people, if I wasn’t forced out of my comfort zone.
Adverse conditions combined with me embracing colour, has hopefully changed these images from salient to poetic.
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