Brussels in Black-and-White

Brussels in colour, as I wrote in my post last week, says something about the city’s vibrancy, diversity, liveliness, charm. Brussels in Black-and-White offers an alternative view, a different kind of feeling, depending of course on the subject matter, composition and that kind of thing.

Here is a different view of the Grand Place from the colour panorama that was the first image in the series last week – apart from being in black-and-white, the image is composed to give you the sense that you are looking in, from the edge of the square, while the diagonals of the cobblestones provide a frame for the ornate buildings. With the additional framing of the tree and the lamp-post, and the dramatic sky, the image has a certain intensity of focus, a concentration of vision, that is absent from the bright, more expansive, touristy image that I posted in colour.

[Click on images to enlarge]

The idea of looking in, of being an observer, is a common characteristic across all of these images. The photograph of Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert also is shot from the edge of the scene, not the centre – a view looking in between the pillars, past the people seated at the round tables, to the crowds thronging the main passageway and the image of Audrey Hepburn flying unperturbed overhead.

The image of the older woman at the cafe, framed by the slightly out-of-focus men in the foreground (I opened the aperture up wide, to frame her in this way) is also about observation, selection – a moment of loneliness perhaps, or boredom, or disillusionment, in the midst of all the gaiety and conversation. Last week’s colour version of this image has quite a different effect, I think.

I was seated at the same table, at the same cafe, but looking in a different direction, down a narrow street, when this group of middle-aged women suddenly materialised, chatting, preening, checking on each other, in preparation before they set off to wherever it was they were going.

The last two photographs were taken while I was having lunch, at a different restaurant earlier in the day. I sat outside, with a glass of wine, and set the Leica on the table so I could slow down the shutter speed and try capturing the movement of the people as they passed by, singly or in groups – sometimes a family would come down the street, or a couple, or a gaggle of tourists, following a guide who was carrying an umbrella or a flag.

The picture of the passers-by is all about the movement, people rushing to get somewhere while time and the street stand still. The second image might be a little deceptive: you have to look closely, or look a second time, to see the two small dogs being carried in a doggy carrier.

Again, click on the images to enlarge.

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