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Explorations in B+W photography


Hello! My name is Patrick Kilburn, and I am a life-inspired photographer drawn to capturing landscapes and nature scenes, travel vistas and street/life moments. My photos have been featured in travel magazines and websites, while others occupy walls in both commercial spaces and private homes. I live and work out of the north Toronto area.


Like many aspiring and professional photographers, I've honed my skills, approach and style over time when it comes to finding something I personally might deem 'worthy' of capture. Lately, I've been exploring monochromatic photo development and have begun to build a curated gallery of images which cannot rely solely upon colour in order to 'work'. Quite a challenge, as I've discovered that photos that look aesthetically pleasing to me in full colour don't always work well in monochrome.


Below, I've posted several images, taken over several years, all shown in black and white. They differ - sometimes by a lot - in terms of style, expression and mood. Some were taken with a monochromatic output in mind, while others were converted to black and white images in post. As the person behind the lens, I of course know the story and meaning behind the capture. I fully appreciate and expect, however, that those who read this post may not be drawn to a particular photo in the same way. Art is, after all, subjective by nature; one person's treasured image may be easily glossed over or even go unnoticed by the eye of the next observer.


I don't concern myself too much about this. In fact, I embrace the notion. I always love to see which of my captures appeal to a prospective client, and I am so often surprised by their interpretation and (hopefully) their choice. What I find most interesting about this field is that 'impact and meaning' are variable things to different people. On a given day, I myself might look at photos taken by others and look at their aesthetic appeal - their balance, tone, or emotion. On another day and in a different mood or mindset, I might subconsciously put a different 'filter' (pun intended) on my viewing specs as it were, and study more the technical qualities of a set of presented images. No one way of interpreting or enjoying photographic art is any better than any other - art is art. It is subjective. I will always look upon this as accepted fact, and celebrate how different people will observe and/or enjoy what their human eyes see before them. I hope my photos evoke some measure of enjoyment in yours!


 

Converted to black and white from original colour photo. In addition to 'fitting' the old world subject in some ways, the effect of shadows and light is also accentuated.


SHADOWS AND SCHUBERT


Converted to black and white from original colour photo. In addition to 'fitting' the old world subject in some ways, the effect of shadows and light is also accentuated.






I took this photo in 2014, but in monochrome, darkened somewhat with an added grainy effect, this photo might be considerably older.



APPROACHING DUBROVNIK


In which year though, you might wonder? I took this photo in 2014, but in monochrome, darkened somewhat with an added grainy effect, this photo might be considerably older.






We stayed in a fantastic old aparthotel north of La Ramblas some years ago. This building contained a rickety old lift that didn't feel all that trustworthy, so we often took the stairs. Couldn't help but be drawn to the sight of wrought iron railings and symmetry/asymmetry of the stairwell. Again, a photo I originally took in full colour, but later experimentation in post led to this black and white keeper.





INFINITE STAIRWELL - BARCELONA, SPAIN


We stayed in a fantastic old aparthotel north of La Rambla some years ago. This building contained a rickety old lift that didn't feel all that trustworthy, so we often took the stairs. Couldn't help but be drawn to the sight of wrought iron railings and symmetry/asymmetry of the stairwell. This photo was originally shot in black and white. It just seemed like the right way to approach the subject.









STORMY SKYLINE - TORONTO


Whenever a weather system moves through my area, I often look south from my home hoping for a view of dramatic skies over the lake as a backdrop for the CN Tower and downtown buildings. A client of mine once asked if I could use the original raw colour image file she saw to create a custom black and white silhouette print for a feature wall in her home. I'm not one to resist a challenge, so I naturally took it on. Admittedly, it's now my favourite version of this photo as well!


 

In summary, the photos I've selected for this interest article didn't necessarily start out as 'envisioned' monochromatic images. Some did, while others were reimagined and later became so during the creative development process. Another photographer might have captured these subjects and scenes with completely different outcomes in mind. Really, the variations are virtually limitless! And therein lies the idea I'm trying to convey - that art in its many forms appeals to each of us uniquely. I think that this unknown factor is what I find intriguing enough to keep creating more.



Patrick Kilburn

Life Inspired Photographer

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