Snow is hard to photograph! To get snow to render white (instead of grey) you need more exposure than your light meter would have you believe. And because of all the contrast typical of snowy scenes, it’s hard to preserve shadow detail without blowing out the highlights completely. So, after going to the darkroom with quite a bit of pessimism, I would have been pleased to find any keepers at all on this roll.
Not that these are exposed all that well, technically. The shadows in some of these are REALLY dark. But here's a thing that seems true: despite all the technical discussion to be had regarding exposure—specifically, preserving highlight/shadow detail—intentionally clipping highlight/shadow detail (or over/under exposing in-camera) is an important artistic tool. In fact, it seems like part of the point of black and white photography.
It seems right to begin this photography blog with some really old photos. This is, in fact, some of the first black and white film I ever developed. I wish I could take more artistic credit for the way these look, but really they are just the product of not knowing what the developer instructions meant, exactly, by “1+47 dilution.” (Like I said, this was still early days.) I liked the way they looked though. Ultimately, it was a really useful accident: I had been reading a lot about composition and developing film—everything I could get my hands on—and I was trying to do everything by the book. Of course none of my pictures were any good. I was becoming discouraged. Then, incredibly, this dilution mistake yielded some of the most interesting (to my eye) images I had produced.
Since then I’ve made a lot of images, and I have tried to learn not to sweat the mistakes. I've learned that maybe the best I can do is to make "purposeful mistakes." (Can I ask you to believe that this is a real thing?) I mean that I try to make mistakes that have some purpose, rather than just making mistakes. In other words, I experiment a lot, knowing very well that those experiments may not yield good images. Anyway, I thought I’d put some of the results of all this trial and error here. I’m not sure yet how often I will update this blog—whether I will do much writing on it, or whether it will be mostly images. But check back. There's more on the way!