Home is where the food is – photo101 once more

Last November, I was bursting with excitement and joy. I learned how to use our dSLR, knelt in the snow until my fingers froze taking pictures of frost covered twigs and spiky plants, and had plenty of failed photos. Through it all, I learned and improved and didn’t want to stop the fun.

What was I up to six months back? Photo 101 by WordPress, of course! And it’s back. And I’ve joined up again.

A favorite feature of the course was the supportive, friendly community that kept growing over that month. Some of my favorite bloggers today came from that course. One is Lovely Lucile. (Be sure to check out her blog – both her photos and writing are outstanding. This post will also be going into Lucile’s Clinic.)

In a comment I left after another of her incredible black and white photos, I said that I would focus on black and white (b&w) if I signed up for photo101 again. I am not skilled in the b&w realm and thought it would be fun and challenging to focus on it for every single photo in the course. Here you go, Lucile and wish me luck!

Photo-A-Day Theme 1: Home and the first dilemma

The first photo we’ve been asked to take is one that describes “home”. Last time, I focused on a street scene in Japan since I feel that my other home is there. This time, we are living in a temporary home that is not ours so that doesn’t work.

What does fit is food. Wherever we go, wherever we are, I can always find or make food that reminds me of either my Canadian roots or my heart in Japan.

But I have a dilemma. I’m supposed to focus on b&w this month and does food really look that appetizing in the non-colors of black and white and the interim hues of gray?

Dilemma #2 – the surprising missing option

The other dilemma was a b&w setting on my camera. I figured that our Nikon would have a button or setting or some way to force b&w photos so that I could see them in the display. Surprisingly, it doesn’t. The only options are the Selective Color Effect or converting a color photo afterward. In the former option, I can see b&w in the display but lose the freedom of manual.

One of my challenges is figuring out how to make a good looking b&w photo. I want to be able to see the contrast in the display while I’m training my eye to look for it. Converting photos after means I can’t get that feedback.

Aren’t we spoiled with digital cameras?! While my mug doesn’t show it, I did grow up with film cameras so I will pretend that it is 1997 and take photos with crossed fingers and held breath, convert them in my own “lab” and learn from my mistakes.

On to the photos!

candies from Japan in black and white

candies from Japan – do they look tasty?

One of my favorite candies from Japan, desperately lacking color. Unfortunately, I ate them all and have to wait until our next visit from/to Japan for more practice.

The setting for these was that Selective Color Effect, without selecting a color. The focus is okay, but again, I can’t control it like I can with manual.

package of udon noodles from Japan

udon noodles from Japan

This is the same setting as the first one. It gives a kind of manual effect with an open aperture but still, there is less control over where the focus is.

I like how this one turned out though and didn’t make any changes after. I’ve learned from this photo that having strong, dark colors in the image on a light background will likely help with b&w photography.

ewww! food in black and white is a learned art

black and white simply won’t do

This was our dinner tonight with some of my favorite Canadian roots ingredients: tomatoes, onions and ground turkey.

I tried but this picture converted to b&W was awful! I’m going to keep trying b&w with food though. This is only the beginning!

One thing I would change is going to a closed aperture to get more of the lower left in focus. I think this is one time when having the whole meal in focus would be better.

Do you have black and white photography tips for me? I’m all eyes!

18 thoughts on “Home is where the food is – photo101 once more

  1. Out of all the pictures I have on my blog, I think there is one b&w photo and one b&w with some color [a red flower.]

    I see some photographers have amazing shots in black and white but I tend to feel a picture looses something when I use black and white. Maybe I should experiment more.

    Love the food picture. Great close-up and the colors are so rich which makes the food look delicious. I also see a b&w photo of a table with some awesome shadows on the side in your twitter feed. That picture is so cool and the brick adds some cool texture in the background.

    • I know what you mean about losing something with black and white. I’m still learning what a good b&w photo is. I tend to go with what my gut says rather than having any eye for it. But when I do see good b&w, it’s memorable. I think Ansel Adams is one of the best. What blows my mind is he did all his work with print film, especially given now the ease of digital.

      I would *love* to see your experiments with b&w.

  2. Hi Hilary,

    I went with the ‘Keys’ for the same reason – we are not in our own home at the moment, but rather in someone else’s, and nothing felt right, no image of inside or outside, no matter how many I took. They simply felt fake and false.


      • A sense of history. Something from the past that not only tells a story, but makes me feel as though I am part of it. (Even knowing I’m not)

    • Totally off topic but I just took a longer look around your blog and I really love how you’ve organized it. I’m wanting to try another theme so I’m always looking for inspiration. I was thinking about signing up for blogging 201 again for more help. The last time was back in October?? so now that a year of blogging has gone by, it might be more useful.

  3. Good for you concentrating on B and W. I keep forgetting about it when taking photos, but do sometimes convert afterwards. Like you I have resolved to use it more as it can produce stunning results.

  4. Great photos. Can’t wait to see your full month!
    Black and white – I think it’s all about contrast. I usually know up front which pic will be black and white. It can also work really well when there’s a large amount of negative space. Oh and grainy images can be fabulous in b&w. Did I ever mention that I love b&w?! 😊

    • Hi girl! Good tips again. I’m looking forward to getting out with the camera tomorrow. We are finally having rain but it’s probably not enough. Parts of Alberta are on almost drought watch and it’s apparently the driest spring in 50 years. Yikes! Why am I sharing this? Perhaps I can get some rainy day pics. The clouds have been spectacular!

        • Thank youuuuu! We’ve had a little rain off and on lately but not enough. Please heavens, open again! By the way, how is AU doing? Well, that’s a big question. Let’s just start with Brissie. no floods or fires or other disasters I hope? I haven’t checked AU news for ages!

          • Heheheh, no disasters here. It’s getting cold in the evening, lovely in the daytime. The kind of weather where you could wear a jacket and scarf but if you sit in the sun, you don’t need them. Bliss.

  5. It may not be the ultimate solution to set the camera to bw mode but I think it is very useful to practice in this way – I do it too. It teaches me to think bw. On my Olympus, there is an image setting called color option that can be used in A, S and P mode. It includes monochrome. Which Nikon do you have?

    • Thanks so much for your comment! It was what I needed to do a little research and I found what I was looking for. It really has helped me to see the screen in b&w. I just don’t have the skill yet to see what a color pic will look like in b&w. By the way, do you have any hints for taking b&w photos? I’m still struggling with trying to see what would make a good b&w photo, even before worrying about camera settings.

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