“The most colourful thing in the world is black and white, it contains all colours and at the same time excludes all.”
To conclude this 2018 Edition of my Ethiopian adventures, I will deviate from the usual short-list of my favorite pictures. Considering that I narrowed down to nearly 130 pictures (out of 4000+ pictures taken in total), I think I managed to do it to a certain extent.
This time, I want to close these African stories by publishing a black & white series of my favorite portraits.
Some were converted in post-prod, using the raw files and Lightroom CC, which leaves more editing freedom to play around.
I can tell you upfront, it is more than just pressing the B&W button. As you will see in some pictures, modifying one parameter over the others can lead to a totally different outcome.
Some were taken in B&W ex-ante. And the exercise is also very rewarding as it forces you to disregard the colours (obviously) and to focus on other components, that have a huge impact on a picture:
- The relations between shadow and bright(er) areas
- Shapes and structures
Overall I’m quite fond of the results. The pictures are not only more dramatic, but they invite the viewer to approach the picture with a different eyes and from a different perspective.
Yet, for the Karo tribe, some pictures are better left untouched, as women wear colourful ornament.
At the Mursi, where people wear washed-out piece of clothing e.g., shooting in b&w made perfectly sense.
Young girls, Mursi Tribe (shot with smartphone)
With the coffee people, it’s a bit mixed. Converting some pics in B&W didn’t add any value. For others, it kind of generated a new picture. You will make your own judgement.
Additionally, shooting with the smartphone and the powerful HDR-mode helpes a lot, mainly in difficult light conditions. Shooting darker-skin faces is a bit tricky, especially when you don’t want to use a flash (too intrusive for my taste). The eye-contours tend to be too dark.
My camera is a bit old now (2014 manufacture) and the spot metering gets easily confused in difficult conditions. Time to upgrade? I am considering it actually… But again, Lightroom CC gives you plenty improvement possibilities, even if it means more post-prod work.
Furthermore, the portrait mode on the new smartphone can generate amazing results…as long as the background is not too complicated (e.g. sky). But in a few pictures, the algorithm screwed up the whole picture as it blurred certain part of the background but not the others. I could rectify some of them with post-prod editing but others were just unusable. Yet, I am sure the algorithm will improve in the future and I am really looking forward to testing the next versions.
For me, weight/bulk is a decisive factor when I have to pack for an assignment. So if one day, I could leave all my heavy stuff at home, that would be amazing. But as for now, small(er) captors are too limited, especially in low light conditions.
Last but not least, shooting using just a smartphone is less intrusive/impressive for your subjects. And you can show them the results on the spot, which is most of the time very well received.
So I hope you’ll like it. Don’t hesitate to drop a comment/feedback. I always appreciate your time!
Take good care
P.S. Music Interlude Kato Change & Winyo – Abiro (Remix)