Weekly Writing Challenge: And Now For Something Completely Different

As many of you know, I like to participate in the Weekly Photo Challenge that the folks at WordPress send out each week. Not too long ago they also began a Weekly Writing Challenge. Unfortunately I cannot commit to participating in this challenge due to the fact that for the time being most of my writing focuses on academic endeavors. But when I saw this week’s challenge, my curiosity was piqued and I had to give it a try. πŸ™‚

When I first began shooting photographs, digital cameras were unheard of. Everything was done with film and processed in a dark room. At that time I shot almost exclusively in black and white. A friend who taught at a nearby university gave me a key to a rarely used darkroom in one of the science buildings on campus so I could process and print my photos. I also designated a room in our home as a makeshift darkroom. Both darkrooms were frequently put to use. There were also times when I worked for professional photographers doing all of their darkroom work. My camera was a classic Pentax Spotmatic and I still keep it on my desk, beat up and worn from extensive use over the years. But with the arrival of babies, the cost of film and processing, not to mention the time involved in photography, I put away this hobby/avocation and became a ‘responsible’ adult dealing with ‘grown-up’ issues. Many years later, after the kids were grown and out of the house, my brother loaned me a ‘point and shoot’ Olympus camera, my first digital. Once again the passion was stirred and I have not stopped taking photographs since. I once again own a Pentax, this time a K-7. With the dawning of the digital age, darkrooms were replaced with computers. As much as I love black and white photography however, I never could master B&W on a digital camera. So I take all my photos today in color. Even so, I continue to enjoy this hobby.

With this week’s writing challenge however, I decided it was high time to experiment with my camera to learn how to shoot good black and white photos once again, and write about it! I read the manual (ugh!!!) that came with my camera and began shooting. The following photos are my first serious efforts with digital B&W photography but I am pleased with the results. In fact I may stick with black and white as I hone this skill once again. I miss the dark room, but if I can achieve good results, I may return to black and white photography!

My first shots were taken in our living room.

Bubbe’s Chair

My granddaughter knows that this is my favorite chair. In fact she calls it “Bubbe’s Chair.” This morning the natural light streaming through the living room window created a nice effect. What do you think?

Grandaddy’s Lamp

Granddaddy was an artist and carpenter. When he combined his artistry with woodworking the results were beautiful pieces of art with practical uses. He crafted this lamp for me when I was nineteen-years-old. The wonderful thing about black and white photography is that it helps one see design and patterns, the play of light, the elegance of a scene rather than the clutter and mismatched furniture that color photography often reveals.

The Lattice and Shadows

Next, as I stepped outside, the first thing I noticed was how the lattice railing created a beautifully designed shadow on the wooden floor of our deck. I don’t think that a color shot would do this justice.

Stone Against Wood

From the deck one steps down onto a cobblestone border that has been untended for years. I actually like the effect of the space and grass between the stones. I also love the contrast between stone and wood. Black and white makes this a far more interesting shot than if it had been taken in color. Do your agree?

This was an interesting shot. I stood at the back of our yard on my tip-toes peering over my neighbor’s fence. All I could see was the lines of the roof tops of neighboring homes . . . and this flower. What a find! I love this photograph. But this is one of those shots that works well in color, too. So I’ve included a color shot. You decide for yourself which one you like better. πŸ˜‰

Black and white photography also helps the viewer see beauty in what might be considered ‘ugly’ or ‘worn’ in other circumstances. Peeling paint becomes a pallette of beauty when what one sees is texture and scattered patterns. Following are a couple of examples.

Black and white photography can also enhance the graceful lines and nuanced patterns found in flora and fauna as you can see in the following photos.

Finally, as I was returning to the warmth indoors, I couldn’t help but notice the lines of the siding on our home juxtaposed with the lines of siding on our neighbor’s home. Quite interesting.

So this is completely different from the posts you will usually find here. But this subject challenged me to step out of my box and explore the art of photography in a different light. Be assured that I will spend many more hours shooting black and white once again!

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of this experiment in trying something completely different! πŸ™‚


Winter is definitely here!

Saturday it snowed for most of the day. Being that it was Shabbat (the sabbath), I was free to sit in front of the living room window and watch for long periods of time. It’s strange, but like sitting before a fireplace and gazing endlessly at flickering, dancing flames, I can watch snow fall for hours and not grow bored. Watching the fine snow slowly whiten the ground as it eventually formed a winter blanket, calmed the cacophony of sounds and thoughts that tend to run through my head on a normal day. Coffee (and later, hot chocolate) in hand, I reflected on the season and the fact that during the darkest time of the year, Chanukah brings us the miracle of light. This holiday reminds us that when in life’s bleakest, coldest, darkest moments, miracles can and do happen. With the first night’s candle, and for each day following, the miraculous light begins to increase little by little, shedding light on hopelessness and thus restoring awe, wonder and hope for spiritual renewal.

The peacefulness of watching snow fall added to the sanctity of the Sabbath, slowing down our bodies and minds, pausing to reflect on the spiritual aspects of life, refraining from the busyness of “creating” our existence. To sit and watch, reflect and listen, is a form of prayer, too. Days like Saturday remind me to connect to the Divine Presence, ubiquitous throughout creation. Β The formal prayers of the day prevent one from becoming too insular, singular in thought, or isolated from the world at large. Yet, the isolation of the moment, sitting by my window watching the snow fall, was a time of connecting with Holy Presence and refreshing my soul; a beautiful, peaceful “island” in time.

And then yesterday, Sunday, I pulled on my boots and headed out into the invigorating air. I couldn’t let a photo-op pass me by! These photos were taken with my little Olympus point-and-shoot. I had let the battery run down on my D-SLR (Pentax), but I’ve taken many great photos with the little pocket camera, so I wasn’t too worried. After about thirty minutes though, the battery gave out on the Olympus, too. Fortunately I did get some shots depicting the fun and beauty of the day. AND, I decided I needed to do better about keeping back-up batteries charged and read to go. Oy. . . after all these years, you would think that I would learn. Oh well. . . enjoy these few photos. There will be many more in the days to come, I’m sure.

And there will be more days to contemplate the more holy aspects of life, too, while I watch snow fall.

Thanks for stopping by. For those of you in the southern hemisphere (or more tropical climes), enjoy your warm weather and/or SUMMER!