Port Townsend, Washington Revisited

Experimenting with Film Simulation

As luck would have it, I found myself making photos in Port Townsend again recently. I hadn’t planned to really make any, since I had already photographed the town during the summer and wrote a blog post for it. I also have a backlog of photos from there to put in a photo gallery, but once on the ground walking down Water Street I couldn’t resist photographing the architecture from another aesthetic perspective. My FujiFilm X-T10 camera has several film simulation modes, so I decided to experiment with some of the Black & White modes to see what effects they would render. Unfortunately, you need to be shooting in JPEG format. I always shoot in RAW—a file that retains all of the original capture data—so the photos came into Lightroom as normal RGB images. Consequently, none of the film emulation effects were visible. I’ll have to remember to put the camera in JPEG mode next time! A good feature of the X-T10 is you can have it save both JPEG and RAW files at the same time.

Hastings Building - Port Townsend WA
The Hastings Building (left) in Port Townsend WA

Black and White Photography

Black and White is not my usual aesthetic choice for making pictures. Many photographic artists use it as part of their signature style, but I love color. Black and white is the preferred aesthetic mode of many documentary and fine art photographers, and both international luminaries and local legends have had a significant influence on my work. It just seemed the right choice at this particular moment and time. That’s what I love about creating art—you often don’t know what style or technique is right until you’re “in it.” And with photography, that means you won’t know until you’re at the location. Everything you’re feeling combined with your life experience comes into play.

Since my intent for these pictures was Black & White with a red filter and then Fujifilm Astia mode, I decided to render the images that way in post-production. The effect produced should have been black and white with dramatic detail in the sky, and a softer image with less color saturation, respectively. So, my Goal was to reproduce that aesthetic in Photoshop. I think the pictures were a success as they do look quite different from what I normally produce, and emulate the desired film types. Note that my black and white adjustments pushed beyond just mimicking film/filter type to make fine art images that represent my artistic vision.

Port Townsend from 'The Bluff'
Port Townsend from ‘The Bluff’

First Day of Fall

It takes many visits to those places and things that interest you to produce pictures with depth of meaning and cohesion.

The weather on the Saturday of my stay was wonderfully blustery with ocassional sun, and the temperature in the low 50’s – perfect for the first Day of October and making photographs of historic architecture. I’ve loved this kind of day since I was a kid, running through the woods or playing football in a neighbor’s yard on Saturday or after school. The love of Fall has carried through my entire life ever since. Port Townsend is an active community with lots of families and high school football games…and there was one being played on Friday night. It really added to the Fall experience, and I made some nighttime photos of the historic Bishop Victorian Hotel, which is right near the stadium. Then, Saturday morning I heard the autumn wind rushing against my hotel window overlooking the bay. I couldn’t wait to get out in it, so it was time to pack up and head own the long stairway. As I opened the door onto Water street I was greeted with a rush of blustery weather and the full feel of Autumn. I walked around the corner to the Courtyard Cafe for a home baked apple turnover and handcrafted chai tea. I highly recommend this family-run cafe, situated in a historic Dutch Colonial 2-family house.

Then it was off to make some more photos.

Mount Baker Block

My film simulation work needs many more outings, but this first foray reveals some new ways of photographing familiar subject mater. This is how ‘good’ photographs are made; it takes many visits to the places and things that interest you, photographing them over time, to produce pictures with depth of meaning and cohesion. And while you ultimately want to settle on a process that aligns with your concept and intent for the pictures, it’s good practice and also fun to try new things to produce pictures that are uniquely yours.