For as long as I can remember, when going out in order to capture street scenes, it has always been with a black and white film in the camera and though I now use an iPhone, this scenario has changed little. Apart from black and white being the preferred and traditional method of street photography, one could say there are technical reasons why it is the desired film.
Street photography is not only unpredictable from its subject matter but equally so from a technical point. Ones exposure is mostly predetermined, based on an average between shadow and highlights of the location and this can result in under or over exposed images as the scene rapidly chances do the camera’s point of view to the direction of the main light source.
So while back in San Francisco’s Chinatown to continue capturing more images for an eBook project, this time I also wanted to play around a little with color, even though the project called for black and white duo-toned images.
I elected to use Hipstamatic 256 because of its good capabilities to average out the exposure. Still there was the question of selecting the proper film and lens combination, especially since I did not want any apparent grain, light leaks or other "analog" imperfections from either lens or film.
Choosing DC (Domenica Catelli) film with a Loftus lens, the Foodie SnapPak, only because I recently used it for a food shot and liked the results that were obtained. It would not be until the images were uploaded to the laptop did I have a chance to truly inspect what I had captured.
Original image with no post processing applied
Feeling the colors were to intense, I elected to desaturate the images and go for a faded late 1960s, early 1970s appearance, thereby giving the photographs a more idealistic and dreamy look of a time past and now a distant memory. Identical post processing settings was applied to all remaining images in this series for a unified appearance.
post processing applied
Between color and a black and white image, there is a distinctive differences in the way our mind process and interprets the photograph, having always believed color evokes an emotional response and black and white an intellectual reply.
post processed with a Pantone black 2C color overlay
And while mobile photography continues the tradition of street photography as a black and white image, one should take a closer look at the option of using color.
Color can be an unexpected surprise for both the photographer and the viewer, especially when it is not expected. It is therefore important to plan ahead and decide what one wants to express and have the viewer interpret from ones work.
By the same token, reversing the rolls when photographing a scene that is normally captured in color and instead go for black and white or a carefully crafted duo-tone photograph.