With my tripod out on loan, I went outside with my monopod and a fast f1.4 lens on the fourth of July to explore the street fireworks in my neighborhood. I was also equipped with high hopes, but those were quickly dashed by a few test shots that had me steadying my monopod for around 10 seconds to get an exposure. Needless to say, it didn’t work. All was not lost though–at least I know better for next year.
Last year, I went outside and took a few shots of the Vancouver fireworks as well as some neighbors down the street. I cursed my location. I cursed the cables in the sky. I cursed my shadow–twice. But I pressed on, and I’m really happy with the results. Now, I won’t be winning any awards for these–or selling any prints for that matter–but the photos are special to me. Attempts to beautify the photos or set up the perfect composition failed, but it did so elegantly.
Capturing perfect fireworks was not my intention (nor was it even a possibility shooting from my front yard). I didn’t really have any intentions. What I ended up with is a capture of my neighborhood during a distinct event–a good sense of personal time and place.
But why black and white, especially for fireworks? Well, I wanted to make sure that the fireworks weren’t too overpowering in the shot. I wasn’t in a good enough spot to make the fireworks the focus of the shot. The black and white conversion decentralized the focus and makes the eye wander, searching the photograph. Trying to push the viewer in this direction, allows for more exploration of the photograph, and inevitably more questions about my intentions.
It’s often important to have a clear theme and intention, and the viewer can appreciate and concentrate on the details of your work. With more personal photos such as these, it was more important to capture a moment in time. Forcing viewers to ask questions like “Why was this shot in black and white?” will hopefully allow them to consider my intentions and get closer to the truth of the photo. And the truth is different for every viewer, every interpretation. So the longer you can hold someone’s attention, the closer they’ll get to their own truth.
Or, that’s just a long-winded, made-up, pompous, way to describe an arbitrary set of photos. I guess it just comes down to the simple fact that I like the photos. Sometimes the simplest, least “artistic” shots are my favorites.