SQUARING THE LAMPLIGHT – FILM NOIR IN BOSTON #11 – Marilyn Armstrong

Squaring the Lamplight

Since Becky already named this, I thought it was a good time to use a photo I have always loved, but definitely needed a redo. This was taken under the streetlights on the sidewalk next to Boston Symphony Hall. It was December and we were there for the Christmas Concert.

The shadows and grain of the photograph made me immediately think of film noir and its dark shadowed moods. If you use your imagination, you can imagine stories about this one.

In the shadows under the streetlight in the heart of Boston

BLACK & WHITE CHALLENGE: GLASS – Marilyn Armstrong

Outside with reflection

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Glass

Lots of glass. In fact, when I really looked closely, almost every picture had glass either as part of a picture or as the primary focal point for a shot.

I’m trying to use newer pictures, so all of these are from August or at the earliest, July. It was astonishing how many pictures include glass in the picture, from little bits to great sheets of it.

Glass. It’s how come your house isn’t dark all the time!

Glass brick entryway to Miss Mendon, the diner. Photo: Garry Armstrong

Out the diner window, a picture that looks entirely different in black & white than it did in color! Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

Black & white picture of the new camera taken with the older camera. Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

More “out the window” from the diner – Marilyn Armstrong

CEE’S BLACK & WHITE PHOTO CHALLENGE – TWO AND TWO

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge:  2 different things or the number 2


Two is a good number. It’s a pair of things or opposites and it’s the kind of number that likes division. A good thing in any number, don’t you think?

Old Number Two, dating back to the 1950 and currently undergoing restoration

Two horses

Two guys

Two

And two more

IN GLORIOUS BLACK AND WHITE

If you have stopped by on recent Sundays you have seen some movie lists.  My top 20 Coming of Age movies included the 1971 B&W feature, The Last Picture Show.  The top 20 Films All Guys Should See included a half-dozen black and white films, including a couple mentioned below.

Thoughts on colorful movies shot in B&W

by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

If I asked you to list your favorite movies, what would they be?  Star Trek, Jason Bourne, The Secret Life of Pets?  Maybe Batman, Spiderman, X-Men, Iron Man, Captain America or Suicide Squad?  Is it a 3D Surround Sound, computer enhanced spectacular? Or just fast and furious?  Do special effects and color make a movie great? Or might it be a brilliant script and amazing performances?

If you’re under 30, does your list include anything in black-and-white?  If you’re under 20, have you seen a black-and-white movie?

That’s right, black-and-white movies, like black-and-white photographs, have no colors, just shades of gray covering the gray-scale. It may seem to some that black-and-white movies were only made because color was not perfected until later, but that’s not true. Long after color was standard for all kinds of film, some directors chose black-and-white.

Some shot in black-and-white to evoke a feeling of another time and place. Raging Bull, the break-out performance for Robert DeNiro in 1980 was shot in black-and-white to evoke the era of Jake La Motta, the boxer and film’s subject.

Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Academy Award winning Schindler’s List was done in black and white not only to make it feel like a World War II movie, but also to emphasize the darkness of the subject matter. American History X, Broadway Danny Rose, Stardust Memories, The Elephant Man, all were made in black-and-white for effect, for mood, for a certain cinematographic grittiness. If you never heard of any of the aforementioned, in 2012 the Academy Award for Best Picture went to The Artist, filmed in black and white to recall another age.

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Here are my top 5 black and white movies. These are required viewing before you report back next week: Casablanca is definitely number one. I know some will tell you that Citizen Kane is the best movie of all time. I watched it. I liked it. I have no need of seeing it again. I could watch Casablanca over and over.

Set during World War II, it’s the story of an American (Humphrey Bogart) who fell in love with a beauty (Ingrid Bergman) in Paris.  Forced to flee when the Nazis invaded, he is stood up at the train station by the woman he loves as the rain pours down. He winds up running a casino in Casablanca amidst a cast of shady characters … when guess who shows up? The movie includes one of the great movies songs of all time, As Time Goes By. And before you ask, Bogart never said, “Play it again, Sam.”

As a child, Psycho scared the heck out of me in the theater. It was one of many Alfred Hitchcock classics filmed in black-and-white. Anthony Perkins gave a deliciously creepy performance as the proprietor of the Bates Motel. If you have seen any other version of this classic, you wasted your time. See the original! Perkins reprises the role a number of times in sequels after he was typecast as a weirdo psychopath. Too bad; he was a solid actor.

When the Music Box Theater in Chicago was restored and started showing vintage movies, I took my mother to see Sunset Boulevard. We had both seen it on our wonderful 19-inch, black-and-white television. This was a chance to see a restored print in a restored theater. Writer William Holden is found dead, floating in a swimming pool. The story plays out mostly in flashback.

Silent film star Gloria Swanson, appropriately plays a former silent film star and manages to chew up the scenery in a fabulous performance. A list of Hollywood notables make cameos, including H.B. Warner in the Paramount film, song writers Ray Evans and Jay Livingston (who wrote music for the movie), and Cecil B. DeMille. As Norma Desmond would famously say, “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

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High Noon is everything a western should be. The town marshal is going to resign — on his wedding day — when bad news arrives. A dangerous outlaw is coming to town, and the new marshal has not yet arrived. The old marshal appears to be no match for the younger guy he had earlier put in jail. Gary Cooper distinguished himself as the sheriff willing to face down the bad guy even if it costs him his life. An A-List of Hollywood stars passed up the chance to make this movie for which Cooper won the Academy Award.

The movie genre that used black-and-white, light and shadows for maximum effect was (is) the detective story. The shine of a street light through a window that throws a shadow on the floor which contains the lines of the window frame and perhaps the detective’s name help to create the scene. Black-and-white emphasizes composition, shadow and light, contrast and mood in ways color can’t.

Top movie of this type is The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart chasing his partner’s killer and the elusive Maltese Falcon. It costars Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, both of whom will turn up a year later with Bogart in Casablanca. The ending has one of the dumbest movie speeches, but paradoxically, one of the great closing lines. Altogether, it’s a great movie.

 

Related:
Coming of Age
Films All Guys Should See

BLACK & WHITE SUNDAY

This is as iconic a view of Boston as there is. Taken from the top of the tallest building on State Street, overlooking the harbor, Custom House, Logan airport, and East Boston across the harbor.

Taken using my not-very-good cell phone because I didn’t have a camera. Through a window. Nonetheless, a view worth preserving.

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The buildings change as time goes on, yet I’m sure Sam Adams and the other revolutionaries would easily recognize this view. It is Boston. Totally, absolutely Boston.

Black & White Sunday: Always there

A YEAR AGO, WE LIVED IN SIBERIA …

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We were in the middle of a snowstorm, the weather equivalent of a siege.

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Underneath that hump, there is a table … was a table … will be a table … when spring comes …

And yet … spring is not far. Five weeks by the calendar. In between, there’s a lot of melting and mud coming. I hope we won’t flood. We deserve a break. All of New England deserves a break.

snow falling front trees

BRICKS AND WALKS AND ROADS: CEE’S B & W CHALLENGE

CEE’S BLACK & WHITE PHOTO CHALLENGE: ANY KIND OF BRICKS OR STONE WALLS, WALKS OR ROADS

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From Cee:

“This week’s Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge (CB&W) topic is  Any Kind of Bricks or Stone Walls, Walks or Roads.  You can have any photos of Bricks or Stones (provided the stone is as big as a brick) or walls and always made of brick or stone.”

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WHEREVER IT LEADS I WILL GO

Black & White Sunday: Leading Lines

From Paula:

“Leading lines are lines within an image that lead the eye to another point in the image, or occasionally, out of the image. Anything with a definite line can be a leading line. Fences, bridges, even a shoreline can lead the eye. I look forward to seeing your contributions to this Black & White Sunday challenge. Anything in monochrome is acceptable, even with selective coloring or sepia if you fancy.”

And here are two photos where the lines lead to shore … and then home.

The wooden pier in Connecticut

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BLACK AND WHITE – PERSPECTIVE OR FROM AFAR

CEE’S BLACK & WHITE PHOTO CHALLENGE: FARAWAY

Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge Badge

From Cee: 

This week’s Cee’s B & W Photo Challenge (CB&W) topic is Faraway. When I typically think faraway photography, I naturally think landscape. However, faraway is also a matter of perspective.

If you have a person or object up close in front and a building or farm in the background, the object in your background appears far away. This technique can work well in macro photograph. The actual distance can be a matter of interpretation.

Faraway to you may be moon and stars — or a large object in the background with a small item in the foreground.

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Some perspective, some landscape. All black and white. Or nearly so.

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And just one of the moon peeking through the oak trees.

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NATURAL PATTERNS IN BLACK AND WHITE

CEE’S BLACK & WHITE PHOTO CHALLENGE: PATTERNS

This week’s Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge (CB&W) topic is Patterns. I wan to see all sorts of patterns, on building, clothes, nature, the list is endless. Your patterns can either be a unique looking piece or a pattern created by repetition.

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This was not just a photographic challenge. It became something of a philosophical puzzle too. I had to define “pattern” for myself. Does pattern imply “natural” repetition of a theme? Can it be an abstract design that does not repeat?

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I eventually decided on “abstract design created by nature.” Nature … but very far from natural. I used so many different effects, from the camera and via Photoshop and other filters that I actually lost track. Suffice to say that these pictures were taken of natural subjects, but the processing is profoundly artificial.

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Which brings me to the next philosophical photographic issue. At what point does a picture that started as a photograph cease being one and become a different form of art? I have no answer for that. Not yet. Maybe later.

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FASHIONED FROM WOOD – CEE’S B&W PHOTO CHALLENGE

CEE’S BLACK & WHITE PHOTO CHALLENGE: THINGS MADE FROM WOOD

This week’s Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge (CB&W) topic is Things Made From Wood. 

Teepee poles - made of oak and sassafras saplings

Teepee poles – made of oak and sassafras saplings

The wooden pier in Connecticut

The wooden pier in Connecticut

Living in a woods — in a house made largely of wood — this would seem one of the easier challenges.

Cellos at the Boston Pops

String Bases at the Boston Pops. My good friend Ben corrected me and he ought to know as he played one of these big babies for many years.

Mountain dulcimer -- hand made of many different woods

Mountain dulcimer — hand-made of many different woods

The pictures need to be black and white, but I can do this! I can.

Forge House - wood house from the 1700s

Forge House - Old wood house

Forge House – Old wood house built by Seth Wood a long time ago and still standing!

72-bw-buggy-wheels_22Wood lives!

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White wood steeple of the old -- not abandoned - Unitarian Church

White wood steeple of the old Unitarian Church

CLOUDS OVER THE MUMFORD

A Photo a Week Challenge: Unusual Clouds

I love taking pictures of clouds. The night of the super moon, I was disappointed by the cloud coverage until I started processing the photos, and then I was thrilled with some of the images because of how the clouds added to the images.

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE ONE OR TWO PHOTOS WITH UNUSUAL CLOUDS OR CLOUD FORMATIONS.

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Late afternoon in the middle of town, on the bridge over the river. In black and white.

MONOCHROMATIC

Weekly Photo Challenge: Monochromatic

This week, share with us your monochromatic images. Be calculating and creative in choosing your subject and focal point; resist the urge to simply take a photo of something with a single color range.

There are times of the year when the world is naturally monochrome … and a long stretch which we in New England call “winter” when it is, for all intents and purposes, black and white.

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Hadley Barn

Hadley snow storm

These are a few. All of them are natural. None has been processed to create a monochrome effect.

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Since the stated intention of this prompt is to show monochromatic images achieved naturally, I think I got it. If I’m wrong, I have many other which were achieved via software.


 

Note: Most of the pictures of geese on the green river were taken by Garry Armstrong.

SHADOWS AND REFLECTIONS – BLACK & WHITE

CEE’S BLACK & WHITE PHOTO CHALLENGE: REFLECTIONS AND SHADOWS

I did each of these in a different style. The first is high-contrast black and white. The second is a duo-tone version. The third is an antique-style yellow-sepia with analog effects.

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All were taken at the creek just over the Rhode Island border on a very green day in mid-August.

Shadows are dominant on land, reflections in the river. All taken on an Olympus PEN, probably with the new f1.8 25mm.