Monochrom Diaries. Episode 1.


Photo: Shapeless.  Museum structure in Seattle, Washington, USA by Martin Herrera Soler

As I mentioned on my prior post, this new found relationship with the medium, as an amateur  photographer has been quite fulfilling.  I miss the intense sole dedication sometimes, but I have also learned that at least for me, I am not ready to have all my time fully dedicated to being creative.  I get stuck.  I feel an urge to produce and ‘show results’, and my patterns and learned behaviors that are so effective in my corporate life, pull me back in the creative space.  So now I get to ‘come back’ to photography.  To be a place that rescues me from the intensity of work, and our love affair is as strong as ever.

A natural consequence of my new relationship with photography has been my commitment to explore the world in shades of gray.  Never before in my short photographic life had I really shot in black and white.  I have, quite unsuccessfully I should say, converted some images to monochrome in the past.   But now is different.  I sold all my SLR gear and exchanged it for a Leica M Monochrom (MM).  This camera’s ‘limitation’ to only register the world in black and white, has forced me to commit to the images and make I not resort back to going for color when I get back home and process the images.

Different from most of what I read before I made the purchase, and believe me it was a lot, for me it has not been so tough to learn to expose and not blow the highlights (a peculiarity of a camera that only registers one channel of luminosity versus the typical three channels – RBG – of a color camera).  What has been truly difficult has been to ‘learn to see in monochrome’.   From knowing how colors will respond to figuring out what I really like in a black and white image.  As I started to shoot, I realized that although I loved some of the black and white worked that I encountered on my photographic book explorations, I could not quite pin point what about them was that moved me.

So I started a disciplined process of searching for work, and what ever I found of interest, I would save a reference of it for further study.  After a while it became clear to me that I am attracted to images that have a very high contrast, with very bright whites and very dark blacks.  I continue to search and more recently experiment with my worn creations.  Much has happened in this six months since I started to shoot with the Leica MM.  Beyond learning that my ‘keepers’ ratio is even lower than it was before, I have also grown a deep interest in learning how to print.  This unexpected interest has led me to the exploration of printing Platinum and Palladium from images created in the Monochrom.

I’ll report more on this soon, as I share more about the Monochrom Diaries.  I leave you with a recent image, one of the few I made in six month that I actually like.  I was fortunate also be able to print this in Platinum, in what was my first experience printing analogue from a digital negative… but more on this later.

Thanks for dropping by.  m.