I’ve entered uncharted territory. . . .
For the past two days I’ve wrestled with a couple of new scenic photographs I had made on Sunday afternoon. The more I worked on them, the less I liked them. I just couldn’t seem to get these images to express what I saw and felt as I photographed the light at a favorite place, near the village of Inverness, on the shore of Tomales Bay.
What I saw was the singular beauty of Black Mountain, its folds accented by the late afternoon sun. The clouds above the mountain were spectacular, puffy cumulus, brilliantly lit as well. The foreground included rivulets of shining water, remnants of the receding tide. The light shone everywhere, including on a swamped duck boat at the water’s edge. As I stood watching and working the scene with my camera, I felt deeply happy, grateful I could be there to witness such a moment of light.
Later, back at my studio, I couldn’t get my new images to sing, to reveal what I had experienced, no matter how many ways I processed them. The mountain fought with the clouds, and the grasses and tidal waters merged making it unclear where land ended and water began.
What follows is my best version of that scene, made last night. I was ready to give up, until it dawned on me that maybe this photograph was never meant to be a monochrome.
As much as I pride myself on being an exclusively black-and-white photographic artist, I decided to peak under the hood of my image for the original color record. (Note: beneath all of my digital black and white images, there’s a full color version that I’ve converted to monochrome!) Normally, I take only a cursory look at the original color before moving on to my conversion, but this time I bravely looked again.
What I found was both delightful and a little bit threatening to my self-declared artist image. In the color version, the mountain stopped arguing with the clouds and the water knew its boundary with the land! I could even see the duck boat again. The color rendering looked and felt more like what I saw and felt when I stood there earlier in the week. Well, what was I going to do, now?
So, for the time being, I’m letting both versions see the light of day. I have no idea where all this goes. I’ll be writing more about this in the coming days. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please let me know what you think about all of this: have I lost my marbles? Should I change my ways and add color to my expressive work, or should I leave well enough alone? I’m all ears. Write to me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Before I go, here’s another photo from that day shown in both versions: