As an artist I love color, but as a photographer I am more inclined to rest with black and white images. There is one problem with this contradiction. What do I do as a photographic artist when faced with an image that belongs in color?
Birds are an excellent example of this issue. Some birds, like a mockingbird or a sparrow only really consist of browns and greys. While they are quite beautiful in their own right, yet as a flashing example of color they fall, for the lack of a better word, flat.
Therefore, black and white photography can help with those images by concentrating on the various non-color related details such as the texture of their feathers and the shapes of their bodies.
However, certain subjects such as a peahen artistically require color. The various pigments and light reflecting qualities of their feathers just scream for a more color oriented focus than a simple black and white focus will deliver.
This carefully considered contrast between the elegant black and white and the strikingly beautiful color image of this peahen was forefront in my mind upon its creation. Therefore I rested with a colored technique that highlights the colorful aspects of the bird yet also maintains that certain elegance and style that a black and white photograph would produce.
I recently spent a morning at Greenhill School in Addison, Texas to take pictures of the elegant peacocks that live on their campus. These peacocks have run free on the campus for many generations. While the official mascot of Greenhill is the hornet, the campus treats the peacocks as unofficial mascots of the school.
The springtime weather makes photographic opportunities with the peacocks a rather tenuous situation. If the wind is howling in from the plains the peacocks have a hard time displaying their train feathers. Yet they are in the middle of mating season and the hens are walking about. In fact, it is quite surprising how loud a peacock call is.
I visited the campus on a windy day, concerned that the peacocks would not display their tail feathers. Luckily, the peacock that I managed to find was cruising around in between two buildings and was fairly protected from the wind. The peahens continued walking about and fortunately a class change poured hundreds of students into their area. The students are very respectful of the peacocks and they receive constant human interaction, but peacocks still like to avoid contact when possible.
The class change resulted in the hens walking right by a peacock. When he saw the peahens, he let out a cry and started doing the mating dance that peacocks are so famous for. Contrary to popular belief, peacocks don’t just stand still when they are displaying. There is dancing, shaking, shimmering, head movement and a 360 degree slow turn involved with the full extension of his feathers.