This week I looked at the world in black and white. But it occurs to me that is exactly what we have been doing too much lately. Every artist knows that contrast is important; shadows and highlights are what give the image depth and edge and impact, but it is the gray areas that can provide the detail and connections.
While in politics or mask-wearing, or climate change there will always be the presence, and maybe the need for, the black and white extremes, the answers are usually in the grey areas. The areas of nuance. The areas of softness. The connective areas.
In editing these photos (which was our challenge this week), it was tempting to go for the high contrast. Maybe that is a throwback to my roots in relief printmaking. But as I worked on them, I realized how important the gray areas were. By subtly making the grays darker or lighter, it would change the focus to a whole different area. They could calm down either of the extremes of black or white. They could add a softness and stillness to the subject.
I have included this “before and two afters” of one of the photos so show you how the entire focus of the photo, the woman in foreground, changed to the people in the background with the edits and crop. (click on them to see them larger)
Perhaps that is how the news and commentary we hear these days gets edited.
They leave most of the blatant black and whites, but change the focus, nuance or slant by just shifting the gray areas of the story to change the picture to meet their purpose. Both of my pictures above are truthful. Both show a moment in time that actually existed, but the read, the inference and the narrative has changed. So neither is “fake news” but each tells a different story.
So what is my point? I guess just the old saying Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware! In art we accept the use of artistic license; it is what gives artists their voice and expression. When it starts to enter journalism or science, when those gray areas get shifted towards supporting either the black or white, then we must recognize it and be aware that it is happening. If we limit ourselves to seeing only the whites and blacks of an issue, we will miss the gray areas of the picture that include both some black and some white.
In the meantime, here are more of this week's photos for you.
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