Friday, February 22, 2013

Focusing on Life :: Monochromatic

This week's prompt by Sally for our weekly Focusing on Life photo journey was to think about photography in a monochromatic way ... consisting of one color. Sometimes a simple black and white photo focuses the eye on just the shape of your subject. I love color as much as the next guy, but when it comes to photography I find black and white romantic, sometimes other world and it always seems to add a bit of elegance to the subject.  

I first noticed the detail on this structure from a black and white photo. The photo had a timeless feel about it, and I assumed that it was from a ruin somewhere in Greece or Italy. I was surprised to find out exactly what these sculptures were and where they were located. I had been to this location many times, but had never looked up. And had never noticed just how detailed the tops of the pillars were. The sculptures are called the 'weeping women' (or the 'weepers') and they stand at the four corners of large planters on the tops of each of the colonnades which were designed to hold plantings watered by their tears. But these pillars are about 3-stories high, and unless you look up you can absolutely miss the detail of them. To give you a sense of their size, I included a a few pictures of my two daughters with their cousin climbing on just the base of the structure.

These are pictures we took this past week while in San Francisco at one of my favorite places; the Palace of Fine Arts. It was constructed in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exposition. These pillars line a lake in a half circle (lower left). My sister-in-law is an artist and is always looking for a subject to photograph. I thought she would enjoy this one.





Sally is right. Monochromatic draws the eye to where it might not otherwise because the colors steal the show. And why not on a gorgeously sunny day in San Francisco.

But there is such beauty in this sculpture of the 'weeping women' that for me, only black and white can really frame the subject. The original photo that caught my attention was in black and white and the 'weeping women' were surrounded in a fog ... literally fog that had the sculptures coming in and out of focus. It had such an effect to it. A vision that has stayed with me. I took the photo (top left) this past week and alter it to black and white. I included another photo that shows you a better angle of the women (these pillars are just too large for me to get this angle with my iphone). My original photo has deep blue sky with tuscan colored stone ... that is what draws the eye. But when you change it to black and white you get this timeless feel and a focus to the subject; the sculpture itself. 


I always wondered why exactly the women are crying? There must have been some intent by the artist, but it took quite a bit of digging to figure it out. The colomns were designed by Ulric Ellerhusen who created the 'weepers' to symbolize the melancholy of life without art.  Ok, now that is kinda cool. I like that meaning. And see, Sally's prompt taught me something new about one of my favorite black and white photo I have hanging on my wall at home.

31 comments:

Cynthia@Ornamental Style said...

What an interesting story. I've seen this palace in movies and it looks spectacular. And even more spectacular now that I know these 'weeping women' are there--hidden in a way unless you look up and with a new eye. Incredible.

Marlene Cupo said...

Love to here stories about your travels, and the very personal way you bring them to us. Great pics.

Stacie said...

I had no idea about the weeping women...what an astute eye!

Annette said...

What a beautiful place. And you're right that you notice the details with the absence of color.

Patty Woodland said...

Color is star and she demands all the attention. You take her away and then the lines and form can begin to strut their stuff

Tanya said...

I would never have guessed that your first shot was of a modern building. Your photos are wonderful.

Katherine at Terra Beadworks said...

Beautiful pictures and story. So right that B&W forces us to look at the details and perhaps see things we would not otherwise see.i

Claire said...

i think the details are much sharper in b&w, aren't they? great pics :)

Islandgirl said...

May have to start using the black and white setting on my camera... It really does force you to look at the detail!

Adrienne said...

Wow, what a great creation of the weeping women, I would love to see that up close! Thanks for sharing!

thewovenspoke said...

Reakky great shots and I love your story. I agree b&w does direct you to details, I forgot how much I enjoyed b&w until this challenge.

EB Bead and Metal Works, LLC said...

Thanks for sharing the story and the images; that is amazing. You are right - the black and white gives the image a whole different meaning.

Courtney said...

I love your post! The story you told about the weeping women is beautiful. Thank you.

Beti Horvath said...

Great photo essay on the nature of color and how its lack draws our eye to detail.

Shel said...

So beautiful - all the photos - but especially your B/W one. I love your post,...very deep in thought and perfect for this week's challenge!

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Very interesting place, and beautiful images! Another place I'd love to see up close.

Meeling said...

How very interesting! Gorgeous in black and white.

(no. 43 this week)

Gloria said...

Color is wonderful, but black and white takes it to another dimension. Love it! (My blog banner went mostly b/w a few months ago.)

Glad you researched to find out the reason for the weeping, appreciate that.

Becky Pancake said...

Great pics. Thanx for sharing this interesting story.

A Polymer Penchant said...

Wonderful! yeah that beautiful sky sure does steal the show, the black and white makes it feel like it is almost disconnected from time and space.

Mary K. McGraw said...

Thanks for sharing what the weepers represented. Life would be melancholy without art. Love the details that your camera showed us in black and white.

Alicia said...

As usual, a fascinating story, Cynthia! I love your details - both in words and pictures.
Thank you for sharing: I learn something new every time I stop by, and today was no different :)

Lori @ Studio Waterstone said...

Beautiful image! I agree also that we lose details sometimes with color.

Kashmira said...

Oh I love this place. Have been there just once, I should go again.
And thanks for doing the research! What an interesting reason behind it!

Crafty Gal Linda said...

I NEED to come to California! Your shots are wonderful! Gorgeous.

Magic Love Crow said...

Beautiful pictures! Interesting when you look at things in color and then in black and white. That is very cool, for the meaning of the weepers!

Janet Bocciardi said...

Oh my gosh I had no idea those were in SF! Love the story of the weepers. Architecture would a be a great series in b&w. loved your post.

Miss Val's Creations said...

I am surprised this sculpture is in the US! It is interesting how differently we view black and white over color. I love the symbolism of the weeping women. I would cry too if there was not art in our lives.

Therese's Treasures said...

Beautiful Cynthia,
I have been to this place on my trip to San Francisco in 2010 and never noticed the ladies at the top of the pillars. Now when I go back and look at the photos I took I will look to see if you got the ladies in my shot.
Thank you for sharing the story.
Therese

LoriF said...

Wonderful backstory and photographs! I love architecture and am always taking photos of wonderful architectural lines while people laugh at me. :-)

Shaiha said...

What a great history lesson and photos.

AntiquityTravelers on Etsy