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  1. #1

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    Why Black and White?

    I'm not looking to start a B&W versus Color debate, nor to suggest that one is better than the other, but I'm interested in the philosophy/reasoning behind black and white photography.

    Personally, I do enjoy the aesthetic of black and white for many applications, but I'm curious if anyone has further elaboration or thought behind this aesthetic and why it is so popular and pleasing, especially from those of you who work almost exclusively in black and white.
    ~ Michelle

  2. #2
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    I like it for many reasons – some aesthetic/artistic/conceptual, and some technical/practical/economical. I also like color, but almost never for technical/practical/economical reasons. I used to shoot far more color than b/w, but now I do the opposite. The huge cuts in color films, papers, and chemicals really cut into the amount of color I shot.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 12-03-2010 at 01:46 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  3. #3

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    Aesthetics and archivability. Also flexibility.

  4. #4
    coigach's Avatar
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    It's the way I 'see' landscapes...

  5. #5

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    Its the way I want to see and feel the world

    (I also do color but that is more from a documentary/"photo journalistic" view)

  6. #6
    Willie Jan's Avatar
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    In my case black and white is the only way where the whole process can be controlled by the artist. For color (if you do not print yourself) it's often just not what you want if you get it back.

    Second B/W must be an interesting picture, with color blue sky and yellow corn for example is already great looking, even when the composition is not good.
    So you look harder and learn more.

  7. #7

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    For me, I just think some things look better in B&W. In a very cynical way, it's almost a "cheat" to add mood and grittiness. I very much like colour too though, if I were to go back somewhere like Hawaii, then I'd shoot exclusively Velvia I think.

  8. #8

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    When I started printing it was obvious that it should be B&W because everybody told me colour was too hard, that was the domain of particularly sadistic home printers. Accepting that as received wisdom I never thought about colour again and if somebody had asked 'why black and white?' my answer would have been what else is there? Now that I know that colour is more or less just as simple as B&W, my decision to use black and white is dictated more by vision and perhaps it's telling that I've only shot about 10 rolls of B&W this year and around 50 rolls of colour.
    Steve.

  9. #9
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    It's a historical thing really. Black and white is a simpler process than colour and was invented first. If it was colour from the start I don't think anyone would have tried to make a monochrome version. As it does exist, lots of people like it and use it.

    It's a similar story with the design of amplifiers for electric guitars. A lot of compromises were made and the amplifiers were (and still are) far from perfect. If the the early designs were theoretically perfect and more hi-fi, what we think of today as the standard electric guitar sound would not exist. We would have a clinical perfect sound which we can achieve now but do not want.


    Steve.

  10. #10

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    Black and white Negative, and Color reversal (slides) here because I can process and view them at home. I do shoot C-41 color, but I send that out because I just don't want the hassle of bringing yet another process into my home.
    "Would you like it if someone that painted in oils told you that you were not making portraits because you were using a camera?"
    "Shouldn't it be more about the joy of producing and viewing the photo than what you paid for the camera?"

    Me

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