Someone once told me I should have a sort of breathalyzer on my editing software, so that anytime I changed a photo to black and white, it would ask me if I was really sure I wanted to do that.

Seattle, 2021

I think her point was that monochrome can be used in a quick and easy way to lend cheap artisticy-ness to any photo, and that I may have been using it a bit more than was appropriate at the time. In her defense, I think she was right. I eased up on my use of black & white, and I started paying better attention to the colors and shades and hues in my work. I’m grateful for the timely criticism.

But some shots just work better in black & white. I think sometimes a lack of color can cut distractions, and get the viewer’s eye directly on the intended subject. Vignetting can function in a similar way, and the two often go well together.

In this piece, because the prompt was “Black and White”, I wanted a subject I could isolate to draw the focus like a laser. I often walk through this cemetery for its quiet, and sometimes for its birds, and I find it conducive to contemplation and inspiration. As often as I’ve walked this cemetery though, this is the first time this small monument caught my attention in the way it did this past week. The space around it provided the isolation, and shooting it at f/1.2 for a severely shallow depth of field gave the subject a space to occupy alone.

Adding the vignette and increasing the contrast helped darken the background and separate the statue even further. In the end, I got what I was after, and pleased with the final image.

No breathalyzer necessary.

This post is a part of the 52-week challenge photography project for 2021. Click here for all the pieces in this project, or click the camera icon above to see all the pieces from all my 52-week challenges.

I published the list I’m using for 2021, in order, in the first post, if you’d like to follow along or join me.