Thursday, January 18, 2007


Based on photos I have been submitting in my photography workshop, our instructor, Ador Pamintuan, remarked that I seem fascinated with black and white lately. Indeed, I am.

You see, I think sometimes the best way to highlight an image’s composition and range of tones is to present it with only its basic elements — devoid of distracting colors.
And without the color element, a photography student will be forced to better understand how individual colors like blues, reds and yellows will translate as different shades of gray.

Although some may regard monochrome as old fashioned, there is, however, a classic beauty in it that is truly worth exploring.

There are many accomplished photographers who may be considered masters of black and white, but my all-time favorite is Ansel Adams. I was fortunate enough to have found a second hand copy of one of his books at a news stand cum used book stall on Avenida Rizal near corner Ronquillo Street. It was in excellent condition; got it for half its original price.

I haven’t delved into his personal history, and therefore, not that knowledgeable about him. However, I do know he was one of the great artists of the 20th-century. This book, Photographs of the Southwest, features some images he had taken from 1928 to 1968 in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah.

It is not a travelogue, but a powerful and evocative collection of images depicting America’s unique landscape, which includes its people and architecture. Some of the photographs in this book have been seldom, if ever, seen or reproduced before. It is most definitely a recommended read, especially for photography enthusiasts.

By the way, does anyone have any idea where I had taken the top photo?

Ansel Adams
Photographs of the Southwest
With an essay on the land by Lawrence Clark Powell
Little, Brown & Company, 1976

posted by Señor Enrique at 1:56 PM


Blogger Sidney said...

I agree with you.
The problem nowadays is the display on computer monitors. I don't care too much if my blue or red is not exactly the same on your computer monitor as on mine. But with b&w pictures it can spoil the whole effect of a picture.

Interesting image! Strong composition.

January 18, 2007 3:42 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Many thanks, Sidney!

Btw, you do have some interesting black and white photographs on your other site, Grayscale ( ) which I visit every now and then for inspiration.

January 18, 2007 4:52 PM  

Blogger Amadeo said...


Since you started posting B/W pictures, I occasionally looked at the two big Ansel Adams prints I have in my living room.

I suppose you know that here in California he might be regarded as the gold standard for B/W photos.

Funny, because at one time one of these prints was "stationed" in the ground floor bathroom.

January 18, 2007 7:26 PM  

Anonymous Ferdz said...

BW and monochromes are classice if done well. Like the contrast of your shot there. Onga san ba yun?

I've seen that Ansel Adams book, a friend of mine has that. Very inspiring BW he has.

January 18, 2007 10:12 PM  

Blogger cruise said...

may binabagayan din naman kasi talaga ang black and white, normally yung ma senti na composition mas bagay sa black and white.

pero itong kuha mo di naman senti pero bagy na bagay sa b/w.

January 19, 2007 1:34 AM  

Blogger bugsybee said...

Hi Eric! I have practically zero knowledge of photography although I've been exposed (no pun intended) to this hobby because of my father and brothers. My role was to gawk at the beauty of their black and white pictures. I've always liked B&W more than their colored ones. Which is also why I liked my brother's Ansel Adams coffee table book which my father bought for him from Readers' Digest. For me, the B&W pictures say a lot more than the colored ones because they have the effect of compelling my imagination to work.

January 19, 2007 1:45 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I think Ansel Adams is a definitive gold standard in b&w all over the world, Amadeo. Didn't realize that here in Manila alone he's that popular.

The framed print I have in my bathroom is that of Tiffany's stained glass with grapes.

January 19, 2007 7:11 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Ferdz! I'll reveal what it is later on, but here's a clue -- you had seen the entire structure more than you realized :)


January 19, 2007 7:13 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thank you, Cruise! It was originally in color, of course, but the more I looked at it, the more I was compeeled to convert it to black and white. It sort of reminds me of those Buck Roger TV series when I was a kid.

January 19, 2007 7:16 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I also think of those b&w Hollywood glamour shots, Bugsybee, which made those movie stars even more alluring.

Btw, did you finally get yourself a digital point & shoot camera?

January 19, 2007 7:19 AM  

Blogger BW said...

Nice shot ! B&W will never die. It might look simple but it is classic and elegant :)

January 19, 2007 7:24 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, BW! With image editing software, it is not that difficult to make b&w conversiaons. Picasa2 is a free downloadable program by Google that does a good job :)

January 19, 2007 7:28 AM  

Anonymous kyels said...

To me, I love BW photos too. They can give you the feeling that is so beautiful yet undescribable; very nostalgic. That is what I think of BW photos.


January 19, 2007 9:15 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I agree with your observations, Kyels. In portraiture, when trying to convey evocative emotions, I, too, believe, B&W would do a much more powerful job!

January 20, 2007 8:35 AM  

Anonymous beth said...

sa quezon memorial circle ba 'yong picture eric? hula lang.

February 07, 2007 6:26 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That's right! You got it, Beth!

February 07, 2007 7:02 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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