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Surrealism? It’s What’s For Breakfast

Often in film and photographic arts black and white images are chosen to give an effect of realism. It could be to give the look of a documentary film as was used in the “Battle of Algiers” (1966) or imitate the stark realism of journalistic photography. It is quite effective at conveying the illusion that we are seeing images of a real event.

In opposition to this idea these photographs have been done in black and white in an attempt to increase their sense of dreamlike imagery. It may be that the desired effect derives more from the juxtaposition of disparate objects whose relative sizes are nonsensical than it does from their lack of real world color. Perhaps they profit from a tension between being monochrome and the obvious unreal collage of the elements. The choice works somehow to their advantage in any case. Here are three recent works in the vein of the surreal.


A relatively cartoonish image that may acquire some validity from the hint of a black and white documentary image. There is also a color version of this one. It is unclear which version is more effective.

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High Waters

The symmetry and odd sizes of the elements is dreamlike while the realism of the photographic collage says otherwise.  All together, I like this image relating to rising seas. The stuff of whimsical but worried dreams perhaps.


What do you think?

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  1. Very interesting post and works! To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of black and white photography, I love colors too much! However, the works you shared are awesome; the one with the crow is perfect in black and white.

    • Cheers, I have a fascination with B&W images also that I think comes from a history of working in graphic arts. I like a good monochrome image for the expressionistic qualities. I do primarily work with color though and maybe that’s why the black and whites are exceptional. Sometimes color gets in the way. I was pondering if these ones had a sense of unreal to them and if that helped them seem dreamy or something.

    • It is my favorite as well. It’s hard though to know why exactly. I have the darnedest time analyzing things I’ve made. The first impression is never possible.
      Anyway, an interesting part of it is the ship. It is a magnificent wooden ship I photographed in dry dock in Port Townsend, Washington. I can’t link my picture at the moment here but I did look up its owner. If you are a fan of wooden boats you’ll appreciate this —> http://alaskacharters.com/abouttheboat.htm


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