It's as simple as Black & White in full colour ...

We all tend to fall for all kinds of fads when it comes to editing, and to some extent, a few years back I even managed to create an editing style that attracted a lot of online attention and requests for my "recipe". But, as time moves on, I'm striving to become more and more of a "purist" in my processing workflow and ignoring the current fads. 

 Mumbai, India

Mumbai, India

Once upon a time, all was well at the de Lange den, and I was happy with my colour processing workflow until my trusted, but economical laptop, which managed to serve me well for a good few years, suddenly crashed while in India. It was an obvious sign that it's time to grudgingly invest in a new one. Soon I was unpacking a brand spanking new $1000 model. I shouldn't mention the brand for obvious reasons, but it starts with an "H" and ends with "P". From there it was downhill all the way. 

Little did I realise that, for unknown technical reasons, this darn machine adorned all my images with a horrible yellow tint, too strong to ignore. However, this wasn't what I saw on the screen, and no, it was not the wrong Photoshop export colour-space settings - I researched everything I could in a desperate attempt to solve this problem. Shortly after, I moved back to South Africa, where still under warranty, the hard drive crashed on me twice and other highly technical things like graphics cards or something broke. Being equally broke at the time, I had no choice but to try and keep this monster alive, but I just never could get the terrible yellow images properly fixed, as I could only see it when viewing on other displays!

Eventually, after another graphics-something broke down, leaving me with a pixilated low-tech display option only, and having lost complete patience with this fucking machine, I gladly took the plunge and invested in a fruity pro model with a great display built from something they call "retina". The display is truly beautiful (or at least more than adequate for my purpose) and for the first time in a much too long while, what I saw, is what I got. And then, ironically and almost immediately, my black and white phase struck! 

 Mumbai India (not messed-up)

Mumbai India (not messed-up)

After many years of street shooting, all the time working almost exclusively in colour (and yellow for the last part), I think that a great colour display helped me to rediscover and appreciate the qualities of black and white. I started becoming interested in things like tonal ranges, shadow detail and light qualities. The challenge now is to process a perfect black and white image with the smoothest tones possible. It's a highly therapeutic, zen-like process, getting back to basics, capturing the essence of light, shadow and texture. I find myself constantly looking for images that will work in BW, scouring through my fast stock going back many years. It's satisfying to "discover" new gems that previously didn't catch my attention. The added bonus from this new "purist" approach is that I don't have to worry anymore whether my images are the "right" style for the time, or whether that tint will still look good next year (apart from a few works that only still really works in colour). It adds a most welcome consistency and common thread in my work.

My personal discovery of the timeless elegance of BW has really served to induce stress-free photography into my repertoire, is less time consuming and leaving me with more time to shoot. It's a win-win situation ...