Africa in Black and White, with a Twist.
Africa in Black and White, with a twist.
Kisutu Market, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
This image is the typical result of having the camera ready when something that lasts a split second happens in front of you begging to be recorded. The man in the background was watching the girl. The girl was watching another man carrying a pile of eggs on his head. This man was walking toward me and for less than a second his curved arm framed the first man in the background. One step forward and this image was gone forever!
Since my early childhood I have been enticed by the inherent strength of Black and White photography.
As a young aspiring photographer it was natural to embrace Ansel Adams’ teachings and to spend many of my days in an improvised dark room checking proofs under a red light and daydreaming about travelling to El Capitan. Those were the days of boxes of Ilford Galerie, rolls of Ilford FP4, untamed dreams of an adolescent and hidroquinone fumes…
Little did I know what destiny had planned for me a few years later. In 1999 I flew out of my hometown in northern Italy to relocate to southern California. After so many years, El Capitan was finally at a weekend drive’s reach. I set out for the first time to Yosemite National Park with the solemn heart of a faithful man on a pilgrimage. I was finally about to put faces to names such as Marced River, Half Dome, Nevada Fall, Tuolumne Meadows, while turning myths into places of which I had personal knowledge and first hand experience.
My journey as a photographer had begun. In those days of epiphany and enhanced awareness I realized that the American Southwest and the Colorado Plateau, which I explored deeply for many years, naturally lent themselves to the world of color photography. With the heart full of wonder, the eyes full of colors and a heavy pack full of Fuji Velvia, I set out for the desert and the maountains, waiting on just the perfect light and never looking back to the days of Black & White. From 35mm to medium format, from 6×17 superpanoramic format to the final test for the landscape photographer, a large format field camera, I had become addicted to the mesmerizing a mind blowing colors of the great American wilderness.
It was only in Africa that I slowly rediscovered my love for Black & White photography and despite experiencing the same grandeur and rich colors of America, I felt the need to use Black & White to properly convey the mood and feelings inspired by certain scenes.
With color photography I like to stay extremely true to my subjects, avoiding the digital tools to unnaturally enhance my images. It is my belief that the art of being a photographer lies in the ability of being in the right place at the right time. No post production gimmicking can (or should) replace the patience and perseverance it takes to create a masterful image in the first place. But with Black & White photography I like to take the gloves off and let anything become fair game in terms of image manipulation.
I wanted to create a small portfolio of Black & White images which retained the original colors in some area of the image itself. I think of this process as a sort of digital colorizing effect, only it’s done in selected areas and instead of adding colors to the Black & White image, the original color is retained.
The images presented in this portfolio are the result of a fairly complex post production sequence. It should be noted that all images are original color images. They have been converted to Black & White favoring an infrared-like type of conversion. The conversion is applied as a Photoshop layer which is masked out in the portion of the image where the original color is maintained.
More details about how each image has been shot and post produced are given in the text below.
Kisatu Market, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
This image is taken in the live chicken section of the Kisatu Market. This place is very dark and forces the photographer to long exposures. The image was converted to infrared Black & White and adjusted for contrast with a curve layer. Some dodging was added to lighten the chicken and to create a strong visual anchor to the image.
Kariakoo Market, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
This image is enhanced by a Gaussian Blur Overlay applied everywhere with the exception of the hands. Heavy burning of the edges keep the eyes focused on the center of the image.
Mikumi National Park, Tanzania.
This image is realized with a split toning effect. The sky has a cool-blue toning effect, while the ground and the elephant are slightly enhanced by a fine sepia toning. Edge burning has been added to keep the attention toward the image’s center of gravity.
Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania.
This image is enhanced with a Gaussian Blur Overlay applied to the trees and the clouds. The infrared conversion delivered a very black sky which sets the tone of the entire image. Heavy edge burning has been added to achieve a more dramatic effect. The green canopy has been retained using the Color Range tool to mask out the Black & White conversion layer.
Ruaha National Park, Tanzania.
This is one of many shots from a series of images taken during a lioness hunt that I was lucky to witness while conducting a photo assignment inside Ruaha national Park. The original color photograph was converted to B&W using a standard (non infrared) conversion. The red blood of the lionesses was isolated using the Color Range tool and the selection was subtracted from the conversion layer. No further toning was applied.
To see more pictures from Giorgio Trucco visit the AdventurAfrica website and Facebook page.