Friday, January 3, 2014

"Dreaming in Monochrom(e)," What Might I Learn?

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As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm interested in the Leica Monochrom. However, I want to really know more about how it would affect my photography before contemplating the purchase of one. So, I'll be working with my M4-2 film camera and black and white film in the coming months, to help answer that question.

The cost of this camera is enormous. It would probably require me to sell my belove M9, which I'm not in a hurry to do. So, I'll refer to this exercise as "Dreaming in Monochrom(e)." Look for it in coming posts.

I read a post on John Buckley's blog "Tulip frenzy," reflecting on a full year with the Leica Monochrom.

(Click Here) to read the full post on Tulip Frenzy.

In the beginning, he writes of discovering monochrome images that he never would have desaturated from color on his own. One note here - for reasons I don't know, John writes from a perspective of "we." I'll substitute "he" here. I hope no one minds.

After the discovery process, it seems that John transformed his photographic thinking when carrying the Monochrom, thinking in luminance (light level) instead of chroma (color). This led him to photograph different people than he would have with color. It also impacted his landscape images. It even drew him to classic photography books, where most of the work (or all) was black and white.

Later in the year, his confidence in choosing which images would be best in monochrome clearly increased.

My take is that if I dedicate my M4-2 (Leica film rangefinder camera) to black and white, and spend some time working with it, I should be able to experience all of the things John describes in his piece. One thing that John mentions about the Monochrom gives me even more confidence in my belief, where he refers to the sensor as:

"...precisely as limited as black and white film..."

Now, I don't think that statement is completely accurate. Apparently, you can shoot very useable images at iso 8000 with the Monochrom; I won't be achieving that with my M4-2. And, I have no illusions about my scanned black and white film rendering anything like the dynamic range of the Monochrom. No, I'm looking for qualitative aspects of dedicated black and white photography here. For example, how often will I carry only black and white film? I'm certainly not looking to add another camera to the bag I put over my shoulder.

In any case, I'm sure it will be an educational experience.