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Expressing in Color

Aug 2011

Copyright © 1993-2011 Ganesh H. Shankar
Off late I have spent lots of time trying to see images in monotones and black and white. Honestly they appeal more to me than my color images may be for a few reasons. The eliminated dimension of colors seem to simplify the images, the careful use of monotone techniques like burning/dodging let me subtly portray my visions and control the experience of viewing. Also, lots of images in black and white have a tendency to look unique just because we don't see many black and white images of nature every day.

Having spent so much time converting many images to B&W I started feeling difficulty making images in color that have some artistic appeal. Everything started looking like documentation of nature. Initially I was worried about this lost ability and later realized that I never had that ability which was consoling to some extent :)

A few years back I thought I found a style for myself by trying to work on "artistic" compositions using elements of nature and keeping the subject relatively small in the frame yet having enough visual attention on the subject. I think I over did them and still doing.

What is wrong with them ? Nothing, I still get some pleasure making them. However, I must admit that I started feeling I have too many such images in my file and this is an easily repeatable style.

Last week I spent four days in a remote village near foot hills of Western Ghats. I took all my macro equipements and decided to make color images this time !! It was very easy to slip into the comfort zone and do some regular boring macro work like this one.

Soon I realized this is not what I wanted. But then what is that I want ? Subjective vague definition goes here - Unique non-repeatable compositions which have an artistic touch. How to make such images ? If there was a defined way to make them then by definition they are repeatable. Next couple of days I spent time thinking and looking through view finder to make some images in color which appears unique and artistic (to my eyes of course). I managed to make two images which gave me some satisfaction.

Why are they different ? To me they are different because they are non-trivial compositions of simple subjects in nature - composition is very different compared to tens of thousands of images I have made and seen in the past. I have not used any special tools/techniques to make them - so it is mostly imagined and executed in mind. To my eyes they seem to have an artistic appeal. They are not repeatable even by me !

*And* they are *color* images of nature ! -:)