For the last five days I have been taking part in the black and white photo challenge on Instagram.

It was an interesting process, pouring through Lightroom and looking for images that had the right feeling, the proper “gravity”, I suppose you could say. It was more difficult than I would have expected but I felt it was deserved. Anything worth doing, and all… Also, I found that listening to Raidohead’s album Hail To The Thief helped get me into the proper mindset. Sail to the Moon is an awesome auditory accompaniment to anything in grayscale.

The five:


Dads first fist bump.
When I think about my favorite BW images this one always comes to mind. Did a shoot for a buddy of mine after his son was born, and his wife Jayme had this idea. I smile every time I see it.


Wine Scientist
Day two takes us into the bowels of Maynard Keenan’s home laboratory. A hand on his OneoFoss analysis unit — which is used to obtain an infrared spectrum of absorption, emission, and photoconductivity of a sample of a solid, liquid, or gas, in this case a few drops of one of his wines — as he waits for the sample to finish testing. I find it interesting as I dig through my archives for this challenge that all the images that I am considering have already been processed into black and white. Is this because they already exist in a desaturated state and stand out amongst the color images? Any photo can be a black and white, but some want it right out of the camera, they need it, they yell from the screen, “this is not me, all this silly color! Remove this hindrance, this distraction from my being. Hark! My story must be told in grayscale.” I believe this to be true. Then again there is no better cure for color balance issues than just removing said color. Little from column A, little from column B, I suppose. Also, maybe I need to see a doctor about these voices.


Photonic Nightcap
Hex triplet – #FFF8E7
sRBG – (255, 248, 231)
CMYK – (0, 2.7, 9.6, 0)
This is the color of the universe. A while back a team of astronomers at Johns Hopkins University set about to determine the age of various galaxies and star systems. In 2002, published in The Astrophysical Journal their paper, “The 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey: Constraints on Cosmic Star Formation History from the Cosmic Spectrum” reported that after a survey of all light in the universe the calculated resulting color added up to be a “slightly beigeish white” and was subsequently named “Cosmic Latte”. Cosmic Latte. Delicious. Now, I know what you are thinking. “But Alex, this is the Black and White photo challenge, so whats with all the color talk?” Well, yeah. I thought about that. And you know what? Who cares. Life is in color and this stuff is interesting. Now, please, for your own health and the good of those around you — next time you have a chance get out and take a nice sip of the cosmic latte. Dr. Alex is writing you a prescription for mountain star gazing. It’s good for the soul. Getcha some of that old light, maybe capture a few photons, shake their hands. This light has been traveling for a long time, it would be rude not to say hello occasionally.


Night Shots
Participants of the Gunsite Pistol 250 course takes turns on the line practicing flashlight techniques in the cool high desert night. This was neat as a long exposure because the shooters did not fire all at once — One at a time from left to right they would draw, illuminate the target, take two shots then holster before turning off their light. So while watching the drill you only see small parts of the berm and a few targets at a time but when exposed for the whole line it gives you a look at the whole scene. A note about long exposures at night – the focal length of your lens determines how long you can expose before getting (noticing) star trails (movement of the earth causing the stars to become elongated and not neat little pinpoints of light.) This was taken with a 10.5mm fisheye which will allow 30 second exposures while keeping the stars neat and tidy.


The sargent leaned forward in his seat. The motion of the helicopter and the weight of the helmet made his head bob up and down as he spoke. “You see the river”, he pointed out the open door without looking. His low and gravelly voice made tinny through the headset. Outside the brown and yellow Texas landscape slid past cut by a winding snake of water the same color as the dirt. I nodded. “The border patrol use of force policy is a little different from ours.” He said, leaning back. “We can handle threat situations down here a little differently.” He repositioned his LaRue Tactical OBR 7.62 rifle between his legs, the suppressor down between his tan boots. The dull grey-blue metal looked cool in the desert heat and indifferent to the struggles of man. The drone of the engines changed pitch and slowed as we approached the LZ. I stared out across the Rio Bravo into the haze of Mexico.

-Alex in living color.