“Almost White” was an exercise my professor assigned in a photography class many years ago. The challenge was to take a photograph that was mostly white. We were working in black and white film cameras then, and we made our own prints in the college darkroom. I forget now what my subject was, except that I don’t think my submission was all that interesting. I’ve alway been intrigued by that challenge. It still comes to mind when I photograph.
Today was a good day to try the challenge again. We had thick patches of fog appear after a warm rain on the remaining ice and snow. I happened to be traveling to an area with a frozen lake. Naturally, I had the camera with me. I attempted to capture the moment after the rain passed, and the fog gradually climbed through the wooded hillside.
For a long time after my photography class, I took very few pictures. I even put away my SLR for most of a decade. Working the dark room was so much fun. The level of control, the big 8×10 prints. The negative was merely the first step in the creative experience. After that class the drug store prints I could afford were like being stuck with hot dogs forever after becoming accustomed to filet mignon. I moved to slide film, which preserved more of what I wanted the picture to be. But I still had no control over the darkroom to make them anything more.
Making It Almost White
Digital photography brings that all back. I can tinker like I have access to every possible darkroom effect, with no dangerous chemicals. For today’s picture, I just let the camera take the shot in program mode. I went to the “darkroom” to make the picture more of what I wanted to see. It was foggy scene, but I wanted it more foggy. I wanted it almost white. However, I still wanted it to look realistic. In Aperture, I dropped the saturation, maxed the exposure and brightness. Coincidentally, those are the first things I would have manipulated in the college darkroom. Some of these things could be done with the camera itself, but in the “darkroom” of Aperture I can experiment in comfort.
Here’s the original, direct from the camera. I used a Nikon D90, with the 18-55mm VR kit lens. I used program mode. I had the in-camera saturation set to vivid; as you can see, we did not have much color in the scene even then.