Color or B&W film?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Prime, Sep 19, 2002.

  1. Prime

    Prime Member

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    Which film do you use most?
     
  2. William Levitt

    William Levitt Member

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    To clarify my vote of "only BW"...if I have a client that needs color, then I'shoot a sheet of color as well, but only if absolutly necessary.
     
  3. HuwEvans

    HuwEvans Member

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    Perhaps I should clarify my vote too - I also said B&W exclusively, but that is a fairly recent change, made a couple of years ago. Anyone looking at my website would get a very different impression, but I'm afraid it's well out of date.

    I'm now B&W only by choice, but likewise if the occasion demanded colour I wouldn't shy away from it.
     
  4. Prime

    Prime Member

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    I wonder why so many analog photographers use B&W. Could it be due to the ease of the process (easy?) and/or availability of materials? Any ideas?
     
  5. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    I wonder why so many analog photographers use B&W. Could it be due to the ease of the process (easy?) and/or availability of materials? Any ideas?

    More control, with color you are stuck with what the film latitude is and processing always the same. Of course if you are really good with color and have your own darkroom you can exercise some measure of extra control, but nothing compared to what you can do with B&W. The same controls traditionally used in the color darkroom, e.i, masks, burning with a different filter color, etc. Can be used with B&W with greater success, on top of that you have the print manipulation, water bath, toning, etc etc....things you dont generally do with color. As a large format photographer I find I "see" better when I am looking for contrasts, shapes, textures. WIth color I think you are required to "see" as the film does, which I cannot do to save my life!
     
  6. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    I think too that B&W has a certain emotive quality that works best with the analog medium. B&W never seems to really look right when digitally output.
     
  7. David Vickery

    David Vickery Member

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    I use B&W film almost exclusively and I think that one of the reasons that it appeals to me is that I can't see in B&W. I can try to imagine a B&W print, or what a subject might look like sort of, but I really can't see in B&W. I see color fine, its everywhere. There is nothing unique about it for me.
     
  8. steve

    steve Member

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    "WIth color I think you are required to "see" as the film does, which I cannot do to save my life! "

    I use color about 99 percent of the time. It is much harder to shoot than black and white, specifically because you don't have all of the controls and tricks to make up for poor seeing, exposure, or composition. It's sort of like comedy versus drama. A bad drama is merely boring, a bad comedy is readily apparent and you know it stinks. Color is like that, it either really works well or not at all. I like to think of it as the equivalent of haiku poetry in that you have strictures imposed by working with color materials, and you have to be very precise with both subject choice and seeing the photograph.

    When I make a really good color photo, I know because I can look at it and say, "nope, wouldn't work in black and white." With a black and white photo you can always play in the darkroom to attempt to make it work after the film is exposed.
     
  9. b.e.wilson

    b.e.wilson Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Prime @ Sep 20 2002, 05:51 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>I wonder why so many analog photographers use B&amp;W. Could it be due to the ease of the process (easy?) and/or availability of materials? Any ideas?</td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
    I find that as an almost strictly color shooter, and this concerns the darkroom alone, that to do color well you must be an excellent technician (keeping strict control over temperatures and times), while to do B&W well you must be more of an artist (altering film development and print exposure to get what you want, not a strict interpretation of what is on the film).

    B&W, being a single (or more recently a double) layer emulsion allows much more variety in development to yield different effects.

    Color, having multiple layers, requires a great uniformity of development if you want to control colors and color balance. This limits the artistic gamut quite a bit. Sure, there are some very creative color darkroom artists around, but in color it's an effort to be creative in the darkroom, whereas in B&W creativity with contrast and brightness is literally a part of daily darkroom work.

    As good as I am in turning out color work in my basement, I still can't do the really creative stuff that a lot of you B&W guys do daily. Maybe someday I'll be an artist; right now I'm a lab tech.
     
  10. steve

    steve Member

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    >>>"I use B&W film almost exclusively and I think that one of the reasons that it appeals to me is that I can't see in B&W. I can try to imagine a B&W print, or what a subject might look like sort of, but I really can't see in B&W."<<<

    Sure you can. Buy a monochromatic viewing filter. Great help when evaluating subjects to be rendered in black and white. Will also help you judge filter effects, should you choose to use those. Should I use a #15, or go for the #23A? Viewing filter will help greatly in seeing what happens, and then, after a while you just know the filter you want to use because you can visualize what it will look like.
     
  11. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    I have to admit that if I were doing color I would end up going partially or completely digital.
     
  12. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    75% B&W, because I enjoy its abstract quality and ability to be manipulated in processing and printing to emphasize the quality of light and interpretation of the subject.

    I seem to shoot color based on the format. In 35mm I seem to always lean to the highly saturated color films and more colorful subjects. Sports and public events come to mind. In larger formats I usually lean to color films that can be manipulated for more washed out colors and pastels. My LF seems to be more about composition and lower color contrast. I lean more toward a monochromatic type representation in LF color.
     
  13. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    although I voted 'B&W most of the time' it's probably 98% of the time... I didn't count the camera I always have loaded with Slide film which is used for family snaps for slide nights, or the million rolls of colour print film my wife goes thru taking 99% baby snaps!! Every now and then I'll run a roll of colour (usually slides) though my Mamiya but basically I shoot B&W for the abstract qualities and the process itself... great to get away from the computer!
     
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  15. bmac

    bmac Member

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    For "Art" photos I use B/W exclusively. I use anything from 35mm to 6X7 to 4X5 depending on what I have with me at the time. For paid portrait work I shoot about 75% color (Portra 400nc) in my RB, and 25% B/W in my RB or Nikon gear depending on the look I am going for. I would eventually like to make it 100% B/W but the people that hire me for portraits always want color and usually have to be talkd in to doing a roll of B/W for shits and giggles.

    Brian
     
  16. Marsh

    Marsh Member

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    My reason to use B&W is really simple. Being red/green color blind it is near impossible for me to get correct color balance in a color print. And the more I try the worse I make the situation.

    I find that improving each print in mono is much more satisfying as I am gettting to where I want to go, rather than furstrating as I get further away from where I want to go in color.

    And that doesn't even scratch the surface as to the different looks you can give your final print in B&W that just isn't there in RA4 with it's take it or leave it quailty.
     
  17. Scott Bulger

    Scott Bulger Member

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    B&W exclusivley. I will turn down work that I can't convince to go B&W.
     
  18. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I find B&W more expressive for my own work. I find that when I shoot color, I tend toward monochromatic scenes anyway, though I do like Astia for portraits.

    I have gone through long periods of shooting color transparencies exclusively, when I haven't had access to a darkroom.

    Lately, I use color mostly for bird photos, because that is part of the information that I want to convey. I've tried some B&W for this, and I've seen some good B&W wildlife photography, but I just haven't made it work for me.
     
  19. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    B/W wildlife has always seemed to me to be a vexing issue.

    As far as I can figure, the biggest problem is that most predators are color-blind. Which means many animals are colored in such a way that they really blend in when shot in B/W.

    Well, that is my theory at least.....
     
  20. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  21. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Since I started to make photographs I have used B&W almost exclusively but since I started to play with digital I have exposed some colour transparency with a view to scanning to make colour prints. As digital has improved I have spent more time on the computer and aquired more kit, the latest being the new Epson 7600 printer and I have to say that the results are excellent. I have been converting colour slide film to B&W for some time and having seen the black and white prints from the 7600 I reckon that I'll be shooting more transparency film in the future. I will not be reducing the amount of black and white film I expose for I still feel that the darkroom with all that smelly chemistry is the love of my life.
     
  22. Nephilim

    Nephilim Member

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    Out of ten rolls of 135 or 120 I´d say that roughly eight of them are b&w and the rest would be color neg. Positive films are so seldomly used that they would have to be rated as a few to a hundred or so.
     
  23. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    As of a couple of months ago, I have moved towards black and white for my work film, though I still SS some color now and then, family outings and such.
     
  24. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    B&W about 90% of the time, colour really only when I am snap-shooting. I don't mean any offence to colour as a medium, I simply find B&W a big enough challange, and find myself with so very much to learn, that I hardly thnk I could satisfactory results from colour.
    Add to that the fact that I can't afford to pay $50 for an 8x10 print at a custom lab, and everything I get back from every "lab" (ranging from 1 hour drug store photo to supposedly specialized photo stores) come back ranging from pure crap to slightly diluted fecal cocktails.... I am sick of paying money and having every single sky have bands on it, digital artifacts, sharpening in addition to a slew of other issues that every lab hands me back - visible in a 4x6!!! Its always such an aggrevating experience that I simply can't be bothered most of the time.

    I also find that B&W is more interpretive, since it takes an element out of the picture and replaces it with one that is more of a peronal take on it - tonality vs colour. Plus, I simply love it - like a favourite food, I can't really say why!
     
  25. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I'm running about 85% ...COLOR!!! I can hear the gasping out there from here.
    What the heck, I have a reputation for being incorrigible anyway .... why stop here? I confess to being a terribly poor "lemming follower", and one who smiles - a lot.

    Which is "better"? I do not consider that a coherent question. A parallel: Is an oil painting better than a charcoal? I can't say I know anyone who has worked in BOTH media who would even attempt an answer to that.
    Which is "easier", or "requires more skill"? IMHO, it is equally difficult to obtain the same level of "value" from either media.

    The media, Color, or black & white; IS important ... has an important effect on the perception of the work. I've noticed that some of my images "work" in black and white, and not in color; and an equal number work in color, but not black and white. There are FAR more important components to a work of art... MOST of which I cannot - in honesty - describe. Compositon, the surface of the paper; pre-conditioning of the "experiencer"; the temperature and lighting of the gallery; the phase of the moon; the wine at the reception ... all seem to have some effect ... just WHAT effect... I'm not sure.

    I happen to make more color images than black and white. Why? Because I want to.
     
  26. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    trix all the way!
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