IN VIEW of the pictures on these pages the sensible question would be, “Why black-and-white?” Certainly, either way, the pictures answer the question. We live in a world of color in which the colors fade as the sun sets. Color is totally absent only in darkness —and in black-and-white photographs.
Thus color and black-and-white photography are so unlike each other that they should not even be compared. Such comparisons, though, are interesting and can be rewarding experiences. The answer is never the same. Sometimes a color photograph of a given subject is superior to its counterpart in black-andwhite. Sometimes (and more often) the reverse is true.
In color photography the image produced is closer to reality than is blackand-white, and this in itself can rob a color photograph of the charm we often find in a fine black-and-white in which the image, being in tones of gray, is far removed from the world around us. It is the inherent unreality of the monochrome image that often fascinates us, while a successful color photograph sometimes captivates us by the experience of intensified reality it affords. Surely the two versions of Mario Garettoni’s iridescent aquarium leave no doubt about which is superior. In this case it is the iridescent colors which fascinate us, and these have, of course, vanished in the black-and-white version, leaving nothing but a few interesting reflections and an anemic goldfish.
The moral to all tfiis is that although color fdm is exciting and wonderful to use, it isn’t always the best choice. The wise photographer is a careful observer, who makes certain that the color in the subject fie is about to photograph is important enough to warrant the use of color film. He asks himself questions: Will color add to or detract from the idea I want to get across? Are the colors harmonious, or will they clash and so spoil the picture? Would the mood I want to convey be better served with black-and-white, which I can control?
Being a color photographer is more tfian just putting color film in your camera. It is a whole new way of life.
The outdoors is a natural setting for informal portraiture, done with a minimum of props and the help of passing strangers
I LOVE to take pictures of people, lots ■ of people. I especially like to work out of doors and with strangers. From these preferences was born my sidewalk studio, which perfectly combines the particular needs of my avocation.
Because I find taking pictures of strangers, both adults and children, so fascinating, I take my camera and go scouting for subjects in new neighborhoods. When I find a model, I have no trouble getting him to sit for me. People invariably succumb to the flattering psychology of someone’s wanting to take their picture. When my prospective models are children, I get permission to photograph them from their parents. With a subject now completely co-operative under the influence of the importance I’ve given him by asking to take his picture, I’m ready to choose my assistants. Actually, the helpers I select come to me. All I need do is set up my camera with a long-focus lens (an immediate attention-getter) , seat my model on a box, and begin to study possible shooting angles. In no time, I'm surrounded by prospective helpers, usually children, who want to know what’s going on. It’s then just a matter of screening many eager helpers down to four who will help me with my props: tw'o to hold backgrounds, two to hold reflectors. Then we all begin having fun.
I find that two reflectors, one tinfoil and one 20x28-01. white canvas board, provide me with just enough variations for fill-in light. The tinfoil reflector gives a much stronger reflectance than does the canvas board. They are both held at about a 45-degree angle to my subjects, and about an equal distance away (three to four feet) from the subject’s face.
The blankets arc extremely convenient as backgrounds; they are light in weight, don’t take up much room, and are always ready for use. I have three, all 38x60 inches, in blue, green, and pink. If they become at all wrinkled from packing, it won’t show if they are placed about five or six feet in back of the model and 1 shoot with my lens wide open. For variety in background texture,
I have my little assistants move the blanket in closer and pull it taut to create one or two interesting folds. Studio-like portraits can be made as simply as this.
My camera is a Leica with a 135-mm Hektor ƒ/4.5 lens. With this long-focus lens and a camera distance of from five to seven feet, I can fill the entire film frame with my subject’s head and shoulders.
Whether the day is bright, hazy, or overcast, pleasing results are possible by using reflectors supplementary. On a bright day, I usually backlight my subject; if I’m shooting a profile, I let the sun highlight one area on the face, filling in shadows with the reflectors. They can also be used to produce interesting catch-lights in the eyes. On dark days, they are indispensable for adding detail to shadow areas.
I think it’s important to use an exposure meter. On a sunny day, I have success with Kodachrome at a setting of 1/100 second at ƒ/4.5; on hazy days, 1/30 second at ƒ/4.5. This can vary slightly; let the meter be your guide.
I don’t use a tripod simply because I like the freedom and maneuverability I have when hand holding my camera. This is especially ideal in trying to capture the natural spontaneity of my younger models’ fleeting expressions and moods.
1 always make it a point to take pictures of my assistants, as well as a few extra shots of my models, get their names and addresses, and send one to each of them to show my appreciation.
For me, shooting portraits outdoors, in this informal manner, is like playing games. Probably that’s why it’s so easy to get my (Continued, on page 132) models and helpers to join me as enthusiastically as they do, no matter what their age. The spirit of the fun has the important effect on the all-important models; they’re made to feel relaxed and at ease and that’s what counts in the final result: the picture.
(Continued from page 65)
People are wonderful to photograph. You won’t really know just how wonderful until you go out and try photographing them yourself. What are you waiting for?—