Monday, September 14, 2009
Taken in a classroom at Queen Elizabeth High School in Halifax (before they knocked it down, which was a few years ago I think).
In the photography courses I took, we were always warned against both excessive contrast (between light and shadow), and the lurking scourge of graininess. These two things tended to go hand in hand, effects that could be produced by over-development of the film (for too long and/or at too high a temperature), over-exposure or otherwise incorrect judgment of lighting when shooting, and probably myriad other technical slip-ups. The higher your chosen ISO, the more likely graininess would result; and some films tended more towards this than others.
As you might guess, I'm about to say "pshaw" to all that, in describing the picture above as one of my favourites; I love it when "rules" get broken, and I think most of my best photos (many of the best photos, in general) involve something of that kind. Yes, of course the window lacks a "textured white" (the light end of the desired spectrum of tones in a well-exposed, well-printed black and white photo). Yes, it's over-exposed, but without that it would lack the dreamy glow that I so enjoy. I didn't even try making a print using "burning" to darken the window area. That light works so well with the facial expressions--these two seem as if they are each off in a little private reverie. And yes, I was probably using Agfa 400 ISO B&W film, and thus basically asking to be handed a dish of grainy contrast for lunch, but: it was cheap, I was in high school, and I still love this picture.