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Contemplating Black & White


“When converting to black-and-white make sure your tones are balanced, as you don’t want too much black, nor do you want blown-out highlights, both of which erase detail. You also don’t want the image to look flat and washed out. Play with Levels in Photoshop to balance the tones, or if you’re using an app filter, choose one that nicely balances them.”


Author and fine-art photographer Susan Tuttle points her lens toward an entirely different kind of landscape: the landscape of self. As for her image titled “Nevermore,” she reveals, “Although it’s a self-portrait, I don’t tend to think of it as such, rather that I’m using my body as a model with which to explore form, shape, line, composition and texture. On a deeper level, I feel tapped into an exploration of the inner workings of the collective human heart.” Susan often uses what she calls a “makeshift photo studio” and self-timer to create her work and chooses to convert many images to black-and-white because, “It heightens the emotional content of the image and can add a bit of mystery to the scene,” she says. Her editing process can include tonal adjustment settings, filters and the Clone tool to remove unwanted pixels. Adds Susan, “I want my work to feel like visual poetry. I wish for my viewers to sense stories behind each image.”


“I look for elements of great contrast or texture. I also keep my eyes open for vintage cars, washed-out brick, weathered paint and other objects in my environment to help add to the timeless, vintage feel of black-and-white instant film.”


What happens when you choose not to rely on postprocessing? Instant film photographer Meghan Davidson puts it this way: “The nostalgic and timeless feel that instant film can achieve is what draws me to shooting with it. Since I’m not using postproduction to convert my images to monochrome, I need to think ahead and decide beforehand that I want to shoot in black-and-white.” Meghan creates portraits and vintage scenes with instant film, adding, “When I want to capture a portrait, often a self-portrait, and I want the image to have an ageless, enduring feel, I shoot black-and-white instant film. Nothing else gives me the same dreamy, timeless, contemplative mood like black-and-white instant film does.”

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