I photographed a whole bunch of pub and shop exteriors while I was in Ireland. I liked how simple and clean yet appealing the buildings were. I liked the shallow setbacks from the streets for the cozy feel they created. I shot them straight on, face forward.
Despite all the great color I found in these buildings, I shot them with black and white in mind. Perhaps I’m inspired by the recent work of photo blogger Dan James, who’s been desaturating Fujicolor 200 as an inexpensive way to get black and white photos.
And so I desaturated several of these photos to see how they turned out. There were some things to like, such as how the yellow turned into a creamy gray.
I also shot this pub with my Nikon N2000 on Kodak T-Max 400. Notice the greater contrast, and also how the Anthony Molloy building shows up as nearly white on film, as opposed to gray in the desaturated digital image.
I’m not sure what, if anything, this comparison says. So many variables are at play here, not the least of which is that the N2000 appears to have metered for a more generous exposure than the S95 did. And heaven knows I can adjust contrast and exposure all day long in Photoshop to bring the digital desaturation more into line with the film photo.
But I wish I had shot a few more storefronts on both film and digital to compare them, as I’m fascinated to study the differences.
I desaturated a few other straight-on building shots, too. Here’s one from Ballinrobe, a rural community in County Mayo.
This rich red storefront in Galway really stood out, and was an obvious candidate for this series. The desaturation ended up looking pretty flat, however. I bet it would benefit from further adjustments, especially to increase contrast.
I shot a couple other storefronts with the N2000. I just like the higher-contrast I got with that 35mm lens and the T-Max 400 better than the color digital shots I desaturated.
It’s all subjective. Maybe you like the lower-contrast look of the desaturated photos. There are black-and-white films out there that give a flatter look. I’ve used some of them but I keep returning to Tri-X and T-Max. I guess I just like contrast in black-and-white photos.
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