My first love in photography is black and white. To capture the essence of a person in a photograph there is nothing better. However, in Nicaragua black and white is a heavy cross to bear. The spectacular colors of Nicaragua assault one’s senses at every turn.
When then to use black and white and when to use color? For landscapes there is no debate. Shooting Nicaragua landscapes, its natural ones at least, color photography is the only option.
As you can see in this photograph of Momotombo Volcano and a sorghum plantation taken late afternoon last week. The sunlight hitting the sulfur soaked slopes of the volcano screams out for color, as does the sleeping yellows and greens of the plantation in shade.
With people photography, the photographer must work very hard to make an interesting and riveting black and white portrait. In color it is so much easier, particularly in Nicaragua to make an image of visual interest, if not profundity.
With nature landscape photography the same challenge exists with black and white and is often heightened, but it is not a worthy battle, the natural colors of Nicaragua must be expressed in photography, it is too painful to turn them into shades of gray.
What can be almost obsessive in nature is the beauty of Nicaragua’s volcanoes, particularly those of its provinces of León and Chinandega. Not least for the fact that they rise up from almost sea level to form natural pyramids. These striking shapes, as symbol of earth’s inner power and fury, take on an even a even more beautiful aspect during the months of October and November when cristal clear skies and air make the jump out in relief.
If you combine that power, beauty and clarity with early morning or late afternoon light, you have the recipe for an irresistible photograph, even if you have (as I do) numerous images of a particular volcano. One must stop at once and start shooting. It is a photographic urge that must be answered.