Why I Switched to Black and White Photography

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Black and white images make us pause to take a closer look.

To see in colour is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul.”
 – Andri Cauldwell

While night photography will always be my first love, black and white photography is a genre that sits most comfortably with me. As a child of the sixties, I often rummaged through family old black and white photos taken with my dad’s 1950’s Braun Paxette camera and I was fascinated with the images. Those old images took me into a world of wonder and I would study them for hours. Black and white photography was forgotten once colour came to the masses but some photographers remained loyal. Today, in the world of digital photography, there are many great black and white photographers and it’s making a resurgence.

Black and white photography is seen as the purest form of photography. Humans see the world in colour and to me, it’s a common sight. Once you remove colour from an image, you are able to look at it without the distractions. It makes us pause and take a closer look. We see the subject, textures, patterns and composition. Black and white images can be dramatic and emotive, they tell a story. A black and white portrait is a picture of beauty and in my eyes, these portraits will always retain that classic, timeless element. 

“Colour records the image, but black and white records the feelings that lie beneath the surface.”   
~ Cole Thompson

When I took up photography as a hobby nine years ago, I went crazy and took photos of everything, as you do. I was passionate but soon realised that not all images looked good in colour so there they sat on my computer for years. Recently I listened to a Podcast, F-Stop Collaborate and Listen by Matt PayneIn Episode 178, Discovering Your Vision in Landscape Photography, Matt interviews Cole Thompson, a brilliant black and white photographer who has changed the way I do things. Cole spoke directly to me and revived my passion, for not only photograph, but for black and white photography as well. Listening to Cole was just what I needed to get me motivated again.

Night photography is magical but it is becoming more and more impractical for me as I get older. Black and white photography, well to me that’s a genre that is both versatile and practical. I can be trigger happy without having to separate the genres because black and white photography is a genre that covers whatever you want to cover. It is not limited to say, night photography, landscapes, architecture, portraits, etc. – you can do them all! 

I am currently sifting through my archives as life eases back into a relatively normal life here in Australia. I am excited about going out again to shoot some great black and white photography. However, keep an eye on my night photography because that love affair is not over yet. I look forward to writing blogs again. It feels good to be back.

PODCASTS: Please give Matt Payne’s podcast a go, F-Stop Collaborate and Listen. He has great guests and I am hooked. It’s one of the best (if not the best) photography podcasts around. I recommend Episode 178 with Cole Thompson. Cole talks about developing a personal vision, not following the rules, external validation and its impact and being true to yourself. Also check out Cole Thomspon’s and Matt Payne’s websites. I am a huge Matt Payne fan and listen to his podcasts regularly. I find Matt to be a great interviewer and he asks the right questions, and I love his work! Matt’s podcast is interesting, inspiring and motivating. And in case you haven’t already noticed, I am a HUGE Cole Thompson fan ☺️

VIDEOWhy Black and White by Cole Thompson. Definitely worth watching.

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Website: normamartiriphotography.com.au

The Jewel

I’m not a big fan of the Gold Coast’s never ending development and these new building’s are no exception. The Jewel, comprising 3 towers, tower over surrounding buildings making them appear minute in comparison while blocking out sunshine and beach views. I found them to be an intrusive phallic structure that can’t be ignored and constantly in your face so to speak but that’s progress in a popular tourist town I guess. I must admit that the architecture is quite impressive and it is sure be another Australian landmark.

Stretched across 130m of absolute beach frontage, the site sits over 2.8 acres and includes luxury residential apartments, an internationally rated 5-star hotel including a Michelin Star restaurant and a grand ballroom. The Jewel is due for completion in mid 2020.

World Cancer Day

 

Sunday, 4th February was World Cancer Day and Brisbane joined other major cities across the globe to paint the world orange and blue and what a wonderful display it was. My photo, shot for ICON Group, made the header and top of the page of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and the Landmark Lighting Report.  What an honour! Other submissions included the Empire State Building; Niagara Falls; Petra, Jordan; Italy; Switzerland and many more.

There were other photographers about as people occupied picnic tables and blankets at Wilson’s Outlook; a magnificent spot to enjoy dinner with a view. A black curtain languished behind the city buildings and I thought we’d get a downpour but the clouds eventually lifted, and once again the Story Bridge shone brightly sending a positive message to the world.

It was a fun shoot and an absolute privilege to be a part of this great worldwide event. Visit the UICC page and see all the World Cancer Day photos here

City Clutter

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The Albert Street Uniting Church in Brisbane is a beautiful old church that was originally a Methodist church. It was built in the late 1800’s and opened on 8th November 1889. Although it once stood alone in its grandeur, it still stands out amongst the skyscrapers, a rose among the thorns.

The Victorian Gothic Revival building is built of red brick, trimmed with white Oamaru limestone and a slate roof. The church continues with services and is a popular wedding venue today. This is one of my favourite buildings in Brisbane.

Wetlands

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These were taken at Sandy Camp Road Wetlands Reserve in Brisbane not far from where I live. I work in the city and often see ibises scavenging through bins so it was great to see them and other birds in their natural habitat.

Sydney

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Sydney is one of my favourite cities. So much to see and some great architecture with the Sydney Opera House right up on the top of my list. I spent a couple of days there recently and here are some shots I took. The history is fascinating so you can read about it here if you are interested.

“[Jørn] Utzon made a building well ahead of its time, far ahead of available technology… a building that changed the image of an entire country.”

 

The Tower of Power

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1 William Street, Brisbane, AKA The Tower of Power, is a government administration building which was completed in October 2016. A very nice addition to the city’s skyline.

Jacaranda

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The Jacaranda trees are in full bloom in Brisbane right now. It is Spring here and the city is bursting in purple blooms in tree-lined streets and dottings in and around the city. It is a magical time of year and the quintessential image of Brisbane. Adding to that magic is a lovely purple blanket of fallen blossoms. Traditionally signalling the beginning of the exam season, it is said that if you haven’t started studying by the time the trees are bursting then you are doomed.

The Brisbane City Botanic Gardens is the site of Australia’s first grown Jacaranda tree and was depicted in the 1903 painting by Richard Godfrey Rivers titled “Under the Jacaranda Tree”. The painting is of the artist and his wife Selina taking tea under the tree. That tree was a Brisbane landmark until it was knocked over by a cyclone in 1980.

I am grateful to Walter Hill  who planted the first tree here in 1864. He was at the time the superintendent of Brisbane’s Botanic Gardens and obtained the Jacaranda seed from Brazil via the Australian wheat ships that traded with South America. It has brought so much beauty to our city.

Here’s a poem I wrote a few years back:

Jacaranda

September blooms of purple hues,
adorn the city street.
And in bright splendour praises Spring,
where limbs and feathers meet.

Amid soft purple hues I lay,
to rest my weary head.
In fantasies drifting away,
upon a sprinkled spread.

Copyright © October 2011 Norma Martiri

aaatrees

Under the Jacaranda Tree by Richard Godfrey Rivers 1903