Over the weekend my wife, Erica and I got out and went to the Guadalupe River Trail in Alviso, CA. The trail was rather boring, perfect for jogging or riding a bike but not too good for photographs. So, we went off the trail and explored the floodplain of the river. We found many interesting things and here’s the shots I did.

Cultivated Flower
Digital B/W Modified Pseudo-Infrared
(click for larger)
This was a cultivated flower I found at the Educational Center right next to the parking lot on Gold St. The duality of the blossoms caught my eye.

A view of the underside of the vehicular bridge going over the river itself is below. You can see the massive structural supports.

Underside of Gold Street Bridge
(click for larger)
And here is the final, and in my opinion best shot. I’m always intrigued by the form of bare branches and this dead tree rising up out of the verdant marsh was really something to see. The posts you see in the foreground and background are remnants of when Alviso was a working port and the Guadalupe River was an open and navigable waterway critical to the economy of San Jose.

(click for larger)

The river at this point has reverted to a brackish tidal marsh which explains why the dozen or so trees were dead. It doesn’t explain why they were planted in a commercial port.

I chose to shoot these images in B/W because working in monochrome places greater emphasis on the composition and subject.

Like most pre-digital photographers I first learned to shoot in B/W. It’s a more demanding medium because you have to maintain a high degree of expertise to create powerful imagery without the visual advantage of saturated colors. The lack of color forces us to focus our attention on the essential nature of our subject and our creative concept. To use B/W successfully the artist must have a mastery not only of their technique but of their artistic vision.

Quite often when I am working on a clients project I will change the image to a B/W to help me perfect my conceptual composition and then return to the color image for final production. This is much like the way I worked in the chemical era when I was shooting 4x5 film. I would shoot color film but all the field work was done using B/W polaroid test film.

Viewing images in B/W really helps us create more powerful images that do a much better job of communicating the essential nature of the structure or space I am photographing.