November in black and white

It doesn’t cost much to open your eyes in new ways. A $49 Toronto Parks & Rec course in photography, for instance.

Ever since our parents put their Brownie box camera into my hands at the age of three, I’ve taken a ton-lot of photographs. Thousands and thousands and thousands.

This course nudges us off Auto or Priority modes. For the past month, I’ve been shooting fully manual. Yes, I feel all thumbs at times and screw up exposure. Gradually, though, new neural pathways are developing along with new possibilities for my shots. Brain expanded, eyes opened.

Here are a few images from this week’s exercise in black and white; most are unedited. Click any image to open the slideshow and a less-pixilated view.

All the shots (except one) are from a cold, blustery morning at Monarch Park. The exception at the top, with a lucky leaf stuck to my window at home, shows a couple from my collection of Dog Bite Steel critters by Jean Pierre Schoss.
Underside of a chinquapin oak leaf (Quercus muehlenbergii)
Plant debris chasing each other across the pavement.

Have you done something recently that has changed your thinking? Tell us about it in the comments.


  1. This is brilliant! I need to take a course to relearn manual on my digital camera. I just completed a week of B&W photos shared on
    Facebook and it was a fun challenge. I’ve now started a B&W file of photos on my computer.

    1. I’ve been watching the Facebook B&W meme with interest, Jessica. It was a nice coincidence to have it as our most recent photo assignment. Yes, do take a course. It’s worth it.

  2. Shooting in B&W really brings out the textures. This reminds me of all the B&W pictures my dad took of us growing up so I’m feeling a little nostalgic after reading your post.

    I’m thinking of taking an Ikebana course, if available around town. I feel my garden designs have become a little formulaic and safe. Maybe a little asymmetry is in order, professionally and personally!

  3. One of the best things I ever did was taking two photo courses. They moved me from an always-on-automatic mode photographer to one who wouldn’t consider using it. Yes, exposure and white balance can be off but using the full range of a camera’s possibilities makes for great fun and better photographs.

    Learning a good system for cataloguing photo to make them easily accessible was another plus I gained from my courses. I know there are lots of programs to do this; I rely on Lightroom.

    1. I’m looking forward to continuing the next installment of this course in January. Although I’ve been too busy this month to do the course full justice, I have definitely been pushed out of my comfort zone. It feels surprisingly good! And time and energy spent cataloging would be time well-spent for me, too.

  4. Thanks for the reminder of how beautiful b&w photography is. 🙂
    I’ve recently been impressed by how much more quickly I ‘see’ the garden’s design with a camera in hand. Otherwise I do tend to focus only on individual plants, not on how well they are working together in a border.

  5. Love your critters 🙂 Andy and I still talk about David Perry’s workshop at the Seattle Fling. It was the first time he’d been nudged off auto and he’s still going strong.

    Well done on tackling NoBloPoMo again – apologies for not cheering you along much earlier in the month!

    1. I remember that David Perry workshop with great appreciation, VP. (But I have to confess that I quickly crapped out with NaBloPoMo this year… just too many things on my plate in 2017. Next year!)

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