The Many Images of The Black and White Forest

Now that the photography portion of my project, The Black and White Forest, is done all I have to do is sift through the thousands of images to find a few that are worthy of being the Chosen Ones.

I hate this part. Stanley Kubrick once called the process of making a film a “slog” and at this point in any project I know what he meant. The first cut is easy—just delete anything that is obviously worthless: The times I dropped the camera, had the focus on manual when you thought it was on auto, the times I wanted the flash to fire but it didn’t, the times I thought the camera was malfunctioning and so I shot twenty images of my feet standing n the Mojave sand.

I can sort of bang away here, going quite quickly (because the rejects are so obvious) but I still need to pay attention—and do this task only with software that has some sort of undo or recovery function in case I delete something by accident. Every once in a while a “bad” photo will show great promise, some new idea stumbled upon. Sometimes that very photograph is a candidate for the final selection and sometimes it points the way toward something new. A lot of good things happen when you pay attention.

After this initial cull I cut and cut, and the process gets slower with each pass and the remaining images get closer and closer to what I want. Eventually, I’ll try a “test run” and will pull from the pool all of the images that I think are the best, the ones I don’t need to think about, and I will see how many I have—enough for a project?—and how they all work together.

If I want, say, one hundred and twenty final images, I aim to select those but to also leave a large number of other candidates in the pool. This allows me flexibility so that I can modify and reshape the project a bit as I work on it, not letting it get too fragile too early.

And that’s where I’m trying to get now. Out of the thousands of images made for The Black and White Forest I’m down to just over six hundred. Here they are, all of them, sort of like a video contact sheet, flickering by at a speed probably too fast to seriously consider but slow enough to give you a sense of the project.

The video is about a minute and a half in duration.