Launch For Hire Building. Tomales Bay, California. March 9, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
The “Launch For Hire” building, docks, and Tomales Bay as remnants of morning fog drift above the water
I shared a color version of this photograph back in March, not too long after I made the photograph. The building is an old wooden structure that sits on pilings above the waters of Tomales Bay, and is probably familiar (especially with its “LAUNCH FOR HIRE” sign) to almost anyone who passes by on the way to Point Reyes. In fact, that is precisely where I was headed. I had gone up there quite early, hoping to arrive early enough to be at Drakes Bay for sunrise. However, other sites along the way distracted me, and after I finished photographing them I found myself delayed, and the sun was rising over the Marin County hills as I drove around the bay. This photograph was made a few minutes later, after the very first light had already come and gone.
The “black and white or color?” question is a new one for those of us who started out photographing on film “back in the day.” Some of you reading this no doubt think that this context is obvious, but in a world in which some actually don’t understand, for example, how a rotary dial telephone worked, this context will likely soon become as unfamiliar as using a horse and buggy. Whether to shoot color or black and white was, only a bit more than a decade ago, a decision what was made well before clicking the shutter. Put black and white film in the camera and shoot black and white, or put color media in the camera and shoot color. (In most cases – with sheet film it was possible to choose, though that didn’t tend to be the work process of such photographers.) Now we have the odd advantage – or, sometimes, the burden – of having to decide based on the nature of the subject and how we see it. Quite a few photographers using digital media will tell you that they don’t always know for sure whether a shot will work best in black and white or color at the time of exposure. (Sometimes you do, but not always.) So we “capture” the scene in color and put off the final decision until the post-processing stage. Even there it can occasionally be hard to decide. This was one of those cases – and both the color and black and white versions live on for now.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.