Cambodian weddings….obnoxiously loud (and colourful) affairs and as good a reason as any to leave my house in pursuit of hearing recovery and this week’s topic – the perfect monochrome. (I do manage to find an opportunity to mention my hate affair with wedding music in almost every blog post... yes, I know)
I am leaving the thumping wedding marquee atop my street behind, turning my colour receptors off and cycling to a favourite spot of mine – Wat Preah Encosai otherwise known as the Upper Pagoda (Wat Leu). In early morning hours an undeniable source of noise this time of day the grounds are quiet apart from the murmur from a nearby school where knowledge is being repeated by countless voices and occasionally laughter rings through the air. I have a small window of opportunity to shoot in peace before the curious and cheeky Cambodian youth are "released into the wild".
Pagodas are by their very nature colourful buildings, walls richly decorated with bright colours and interiors boasting murals depicting religious motifs on every available square inch including the pillars and ceiling. Quite the sensory overload. So why come here for a black and white challenge, has she gone mad? ….. Well yes and no.
A quick read-up on how to see the world in black and white reveals the simple truth – shapes, patterns, contrast, simplicity and texture to name the few key elements. Luckily pagodas have these too aside from being a technicolour dream… There are lines and arches, mosaic floors, rusty old gates, peeling paint on wooden doors and window frames, dirty handprints on walls and an old man who has the keys to the forgotten treasures inside. Occasionally a bright flash of monk’s robe catches the eye adding to the authenticity of the place.
But the week is only in its first half and who knows what other colourless opportunities I run into!
So I keep on looking and I come across images that would please the judges (I hope) if our theme was abstract – IF only! I will have to find other visual pleasers down the line but when I am shooting a promotional material for one of the hotels in the area I come across an interesting image which definitely benefits from monochrome and it ends up being my final choice.
I grew up with black and white photography, negatives drying throughout the apartment, the smell of chemicals in the air and bathroom inaccessible for hours on end. My father is a self-taught enthusiast with his own dismountable infrared kingdom which even now, in the digital age, gets the occasional airing and home-made monochrome images are produced.
There is something undeniably nostalgic in black and white photography but it’s also the “new cool” – whatever it means to you, it’s certain that it’s not going anywhere, it’s here to stay and we shall be creative in both colour and monochrome because we can! So here's to black and white!
anna bella betts
Never still, always on the move, looking for the perfect capture... Cambodia is currently my home, presenting endless opportunities....
In this blog you will find no profound wisdom.
Just accounts of daily life, sometimes about photography, often about wine, occasionally about travel adventures and sometimes about nothing at all.