Back to Black ! 5

(English version at the bottom of the page)

“I’ll go back to black !”, chantait Amy Winehouse il y a un peu plus de 10 ans. Ces dernières semaines, j’avais fait de plus en plus de photos en couleur. Il n’y a qu’à regarder mes derniers articles et mes photos partagées sur Facebook. Moi qui apprécie tout particulièrement le monochrome, serais je en train de le délaisser pour la couleur?

C’est vrai que la lumière est vraiment belle dans le sud de la France et après avoir fait exclusivement du N&B pendant près de 6 mois, je voulais essayer de nouvelles choses avec la couleur. J’ai appris à aimer la couleur, à composer avec elle. Mais c’est loin d’être évident. Quand la couleur est l’unique protagoniste comme sur ma série “Redelicious” c’est assez simple. Mais la plupart du temps, la couleur ne rajoutait rien à la photo, donc le N&B s’imposait… Il arrive même parfois que la couleur est trop distrayante et parasite une photo.

J’ai une préférence pour le N&B avec son coté intemporel, classique. Je suis sûrement influencé par les photos des Grands Photographes comme Gary Winogrand ou encore William Klein.

Le N&B est idéal car il permet de se concentrer sur les textures, les contrastes sans tenir compte des couleurs. Les silhouettes sont plus percutantes en monochrome. En ôtant la couleur, la photo est simplifiée. On a une approche plus minimaliste. On se concentre plus sur les formes.

J’ai aussi l’impression qu’une photo en N&B a plus de profondeur qu’une photo en couleur. Ted Grant disait : “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!”. Ce n’est en aucun cas une généralité. Certains sont doués pour la couleur et savent l’utiliser. D’ailleurs je me suis acheté deux beaux livres en fin d’année dernière. “The Last Resort” de Martin Parr et aussi “The Suffering of Light” d’Alex Webb. Deux livres magnifiques en couleur. Bon ok, la citation de Ted Grant ne tient plus vraiment…

Après ces derniers mois à jouer avec la lumière et les ombres en couleurs j’avais décidé d’appliquer le même procédé avec le monochrome. Avec mon Ricoh GRD IV, je travaille en RAW + Jpegs en N&B. Je suis très souvent à – 2 EV. Ça m’aide à me concentrer sur les hautes lumières.

Je suis donc revenu au monochrome. Je n’abandonne pas la couleur, mais je me recentre un peu sur le N&B.

Toutes les photos ont été faîtes avec le Ricoh GRD IV.

Cliquez ici pour accéder à la Galerie Back to Black !

~ o ~

Back to Black !


“I’ll go back to black!”, Amy Winehouse sang more than 10 years ago. In recent weeks, I have made more and more color photos. Just have a look at my latest articles and shared photos on Facebook. I who particularly appreciates the monochrome, would I be leaving it for color ?

It is true that the light is really beautiful in the south of France and after doing exclusively B&W for almost 6 months, I wanted to try new things with color. I have learned to love color, to deal with it. But this is far from obvious. When color is the only protagonist like on my series “Redelicious” it’s pretty simple. But most of the time, the color did not add anything to the picture, so the B&W was necessary … Even worse, sometimes the color is too distracting and parasites a capture.

I have a preference for B&W with its timeless, classic look. I am surely influenced by the Masters like Gary Winogrand or William Klein.

The B&W is ideal because it allows to concentrate on the textures, the contrasts without taking into account the colors. The silhouettes are more striking in monochrome. By removing the color, the picture is simplified. We have a more minimalist approach. We focus more on shapes.

I also have the impression that a photo in B&W has more depth than a photo in color. Ted Grant said: “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls ! “. This is by no means a generality. Some are gifted for color and know how to use it. Besides, I bought myself two fine books at the end of last year. “The Last Resort” by Martin Parr and also “The Suffering of Light” by Alex Webb. Two beautiful books in color. Okay, the quote from Ted Grant does not really hold …

After these last months playing with light and shadows in color, I had decided to apply the same approach with the monochrome. With my Ricoh GRD IV, I work in RAW + Jpegs in B&W. I am very often at – 2 EV. It helps me focus on the highlights.

So I came back to the monochrome. I do not give up color, but I refocus a little on the B&W.

All the photographs were made with the Ricoh GRD IV.

Click here for the Back to Black Galery !

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5 thoughts on “Back to Black !

  • John Harper

    Couldn’t agree more Jeff. Black and White has the edge and adds more depth. It concentrates the eye so much more, as you said “colour is too distracting”.

    Great article once again and as always the accompanying photographs sublime, examples of how it should be done. My own favourites the first and last images.

    Keep up the good work, cheers for now. John.

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      It was so good to shoot again in monochrome. My camera is set to B&W. Some people would argue that one shouldn’t set his camera like this and we see the world in color. But the thing is that it’s easier for me tho focus on the light if my camera is set to B&W. Anyway i will still work a little color like in Porquerolles, because my parents don’t really like B&W and they want to see their grandchildren in color ! 😉

      Cheers and happy holidays !

  • Lin Zee

    Back in Black by AC/DC might also be a good tune to shoot by. Ha!

    I have a big soft spot for the dark and light as well as you may well have seen but my eyes are not as trained nor seasoned as yours.

    It is the silhouettes that really grab my attention in your images here and the sheer contrast between light and dark that makes them standout.

    I must try to shoot or adjust for highlights and play with exposure values – have done so before without much effect – so many techniques which I love! 🙂

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      AC/DC sounds great ! 😉
      Go for it Lindsay ! Some people look for situations when they go out shooting street. I’m very bad at this. Personally, I look for the light. The light is the thing for me. Thans I can wait for the right person to enter the frame. As you said, dare to play with the EV. My photographs are pretty extrem. I don’t care much about details in shadows and having the high lights burnt is sometimes good and one thing I’ve learnt from Vasco Trancoso ( look at his interview ) is the art of Silhouettes ! Not basic ones, but meaningful, soulful ones. He’s erally (really) good at that.
      Cheers Mr Z, wish you Happy Easter as well ! 😉