All posts by markbphoto

Color Commentary

As a maker of black & white photgraphic images, I need to be highly aware of color because the quality of light that is illuminating my subjects will affect the appearance of the final image. To achieve natural gradations of gray, I may have to filter out blue light, for instance, when capturing an image of something in shade under bright blue skies.

As I have gone along working on monochromatic pictures, I have become more aware of color, better at seeing colors. Usually, making color photographs does not appeal to me. Color in my mind just seems to muddy the result. It seems to hide the plays of light and shadow, composition and meaning that are elegantly displayed in shades of gray.

However, recently, I’ve had a little fun bringing out the colors in some infrared captures and applying a solarized style in Photoshop. The images remind me of psychedelic poster art from the 1960’s and early ’70’s.

I like photography as a camera and printmaking activity more than being a user of software, so I work pretty simply and quickly as a rule in Photoshop. Let me share a little of my process here. Once I imported image files from my infrared converted camera I followed a few steps to get my solarized color prints or image files for display.

  1. Reduce noise. I use Topaz Labs DeNoise plug-in with
  2. Adjust exposure, clarity, vibrance, and saturation in Photoshop Camera Raw
  3. Make any further adjustments as needed, usually adjusting curves.
  4. Apply Unsharp Mask.
  5. Apply Solarize style.when-a-lilac-opens-slrzd-P5140404
  6. Make any last adjustments as above to please my eye.
  7. Done.

when-a-lilac-opens-P5140404Color is for me a kind of play, an exotic place for my mind to travel for a brief vacation.

Right side: a treatment of the same image as above developed as color infrared without the solarization style applied.

Creativity and Life

Making photographs, thinking of new projects, just feeling like picking up the camera, I am not a mere machine purring along. Habit can carry me through low points, but sometimes life stops me in my tracks as when last month (while my continued search for a job was getting to be a drag) my kid brother unexpectedly and suddenly died. I had been struggling, and now life screeched to a temporary halt while I grieved with my family and friends.

Slowly, I began to process my emotions and thoughts about the event by talking with my surviving brother and two sisters, my wife, my nephews who had lost their father, and close extended family members and friends; I wrote a few thoughts down in haiku form; I edited some photos and took a few new pictures that seemed to connect me with my feelings of loss, and memories of my brother.

My life paused when tragedy struck. I did not take pictures, then I did. I did not write, now I do. Creativity at this time is not a sentimental process, making lemonade when life gave me lemons; its cessation is the hole I fall in; its work is stones I grip to pull myself up again.


Moe and I were in Washington viewing the cherry blossoms on an overcast spring day. That evening my brother passed away. Something about this image felt like what was going on inside me: the grayness of the day, the diffusion by clouds of the light…

The cherry blossom

And the cold spring afternoon

Are now always one


Spring and cold belong

Not together, but alone

One alive, one ghost

I studied photography and the camera, but I’m not a studious photographer. When I’m out in the field I think a little, perhaps change a few camera settings; then I’m done thinking. When what I see on my camera LCD or in the viewfinder feels right I click. It is as though in my mind I’ve closed my eyes to trust the world to show me what apprehended my eye that I could feel but not in that moment comprehend. I trust the world to give me time.

Instant Photography

Bankruptcy and the ceasing of production of instant films by Polaroid could have left only Fujifilm as a producer of peal apart instant film for Land Cameras, but no integral instant films for classic Polaroid cameras. However, in 2008 The Impossible Project was conceived and funding was found to purchase the last Polaroid film manufacturing plant in the world.
Ten of the best former Polaroid employees were recruited to join in the effort to recreate film chemistry for SX-70, 600, and Spectra/Image cameras.By 2010 Impossible released its first black and white instant film, recreating instant film for Polaroid format cameras.
Polaroid SX-70 Black & White instant film
Scamper in the shadow of lace curtains. Polaroid SX-70 Black & White instant film.
Today, it produces black & white and color integral films, 8×10 black & white film, and the Instant Lab, which works with black & white or color SX-70 or 600 films to make instant prints from smartphones and tablets; and it refurbishes classic Polaroid SX-70, 600, and Spectra/Image cameras.
Polaroid SX-70 Black & White instant film
Pepper behind lace curtains. Polaroid SX-70 Black & White instant film.

Find out more about Impossible.