Third Thursday Challenge: January

Are you addicted to color? Yea, me too.

Especially since I became a convert to the “golden hour”, gilding all in its clear honeyed light. As well as becoming addicted to faux-lomography and other post-processing techniques, ones that depend upon deeply saturated colors for their signature “look”.

So this month’s challenge – black and white.

No dependence upon color to tell my visual story, to draw the eye and add emotional resonance.

No, only line and shape and pattern. Only the rich tones of black, white and the full range of grays to create texture and interest.

Perhaps it is the season – this time of overcast, gray days, when trees are stark silhouettes and nature wears her white winter cloak – that monochrome images seem so appropriate. In any event, I have found myself converting more and more of my images to black and white – color seems to be a distraction, a way to hide something deeper.

David duChemin, in his book “Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images” has this to say about the decision to convert to black and white:

“Color is powerfully seductive…But create a great black and white conversion, rendering those same colors as tones, and you allow the lines, tones, textures, and gesture of the image to speak more loudly because the color has been silenced. The question becomes, “What is this image about?” If color is part of that for you, then keep it. If it’s not, consider pulling it.”

So I am silencing the color, letting the other elements have their say.


In this first month of the new year, what is your challenge? Remember, there are no rules. Do whatever scares you or stimulates you or intrigues you. Give yourself permission to play; to try and fail; maybe even crash and burn. What have you got to lose? It doesn’t have to be big or profound – take just a tiny step into new territory. This is about YOU and what you need to grow as a photographer.

Join in below – the link will be open through the end of the month. If you like, you can find the TTC button here.  I can’t wait to cheer you on.

Reflection among the Arches


Posted on January 17, 2013, in Third Thursday Challenge and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Great black and white series Brenda–each shot is an excellent representation of how black and white can really make the lines, shapes and textures more impactful. I also like very much how several of these shots juxtapose the linear with the distorted. Very cool.

    • Chris – well, coming from you – a master of black and white – this is high praise indeed. I must admit that studying your BW shots throughout the past year has inspired my own monochrome journey.

  2. Your photos are just as strong in B&W as in color. Maybe stronger. Maybe just different.
    A good B&W image is more abstract, which goes well with your subject matter–design, lines, reflections, patterns, textures.
    I love these images! The reflections are mesmerizing, the lines strong and bold, the angles unique.
    You have a gift.

    • Anita – thank you so much for your comment on my BW experiments. I do feel myself drawn more and more into making monochrome images – letting the lines and textures speak for themselves. I still struggle with deciding when an image is stronger with or without color – that is definitely a learning process. But I so appreciate the positive feedback – it encourages me to forge onward.

  3. Well, for someone that doesn’t do BW. You do BW. It seems there’s nothing you challenge yourself to that isn’t a success. You know no crash and burn.
    Love these-love the quote that caught your attention. The softer one is interesting as so many BW have these dark darks and stark whites. I like the high key effect. That last shot is AHmazing-the reflections served you very well with not only the BW contrast, but the lines vs abstraction and curves.
    Please give me one bonus point. Not only did I remember but I’m 1st on the 3rd Thursday. Woot! Have a great day my friend.

    • Susan – your bonus points have been duly awarded! And trust me, I have done plenty of “crash-and-burn” – I just don’t share it here online – I suppose that makes me shallow? 🙂

      And yes, duChemin has quite a bit of wisdom in his books – and I really liked this idea of “silencing” the color to allow the other elements to be heard. Thinking of it that way helps me decide when BW is a better choice, although my abilities to make that judgement are definitely in their infancy.

      I’m glad you liked the “high-key” image – I have been playing with that effect quite a bit – some would say obsessed with – so I’m glad it worked here. Appreciate so much your gracious comments.

  4. Love Love Love your black and whites….Black and White is what “drew” me to looking at photographs in galleries and museums. My first “exposure.” Your second shop with its cock-eyed, wobbly reflections reminds me of my mind right now…not sure what direction it should take! If I hurry and do a posting today, I can submit…that would be way too much fun. Plus would love to plug your website to the readers I might have. smiles: sharon

    • Sharon – thanks so much for participating in the Third Thursday Challenge and for your kind comments on my BW experiments. And don’t worry about rushing in the future to post – the link will always be open through the end of any given month, so you have plenty of time to participate.

      There is certainly a very strong tradition of black and white throughout photography’s history – such that I think we do ourselves a disservice if we don’t at least give it a try, to see if it speaks to us and our particular work.

  5. The blacks and whites here are amazing! Just a simple collection of lines and shapes and forms. Love how you’re challenging yourself…stretching and growing.

    • Marcie – yes, just those simple collections of lines and shapes – the things that generally attract me in the first place. I’m not to the point where I can “see” in black and white and immediately know when a particular image will work best in monochrome but I am getting better at recogizing when an image is strengthened by subtracting the color. Still a learning process for sure.

  6. There really is nothing you cannot do . . . there really is something about black and white that seems to strip things to their bones yet often leave you with more. Great series.

    • Kathryn – I had to smile at your very kind compliment. The list of things I cannot do photographically speaking is embarassingly long — I don’t do people or anything that moves; I struggle with introducing depth in my images; my camera is limited in its ability to produce creamy, blurred backgrounds; I truly suck at composing interesting “at-home” images – I could go on and on. I suppose I have simply found my niche and explore it for all its worth. But I certainly have plenty of material for future challenges!

  7. Stunning!! These have left me speechless! My favorite is the second one. I love the arched windows and the reflections they hold, especially the clock face!!

    • Thanks, Cathy. It’s funny – that second image is a scene I have shot numerous times, trying to capture the courthouse reflection in those lovely arched windows. But I was never satisfied with the results. It wasn’t until I converted it to black and white that the image suddenly clicked. There is so much going on in this photo and color simply added to the visual overload. This was definitely a case where “silencing the color” resulted in a much stronger image. And I was hoping someone would notice the clock face – that tower with its clock and angel statues is a Canton icon – always a challenge to find a new way to shoot it.

  8. Wow! That first image is mind-bending. I love how you seem to capture the impossible. Brava!!

    • Lisa – it amazed me how much this image improved when I converted it to black and white. Previously, the color simply overwhelmed – all that rust-colored brick and teal column and blue sky – and the eye didn’t know where to look. But in black and white, it is that mind-bending distorted reflection that jumps to center stage. I’m sure it is true in writing – sometimes you have to know what to take away to make the story stronger.

  9. Absolutely beautiful images, Brenda!

    I agree with Anita, you do have a gift.

  10. Brenda, these are stunning. They really bring out the strength of line and pattern that you bring to your images.

    • Kim – I am becoming quite enchanted with black and white these days. More and more of my images are making the transition. Perhaps it is a natural progression for me. Whatever the case, I am following this path to see where it might lead.

    • Thanks Tina! Appreciate so much your stopping by and for participating in the challenge. I hope you will join up next month as well. I have found this monthly challenge keeps me on my toes – purposefully trying out new things.

  11. gorgeous B&W images here Brenda, good on you ffor challenging yourself.

    • Leanne – I have found this monthly challenge practice to be of real benefit to my photography practice. It gives me incentive to try new things on a regular basis – something I probably wouldn’t do without this regular commitment.

  12. Love your images here, the black and white is absolutely stunning. And hey, I just about managed my submission too. One of these days I’ll make it before the last day….

    • Becs – hey, you had a full day to go – the link doesn’t close until tomorrow! So plenty of time. 🙂 So glad to see you here. And thanks for the kind words – black and white continues to enthrall me.

I greatly appreciate your comments!

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