Ken, I think I agree at to some degree. It pares down the experience and as a result we look at things in terms of lightness and texture. It's not that we don't do that with color images -- but we don't do it the same way. Of course color can communicate a great deal. Think about Galen Rowell's stunning photo of the rainbow over the Potala Palace in Tibet. It would take an utterly virtuoso effort for that photo to work in B&W.
If you look at Galen Rowell's landscapes of Yosemite and the southern Sierras, which in my mind are every bit as great as Ansel Adams', you can see that he was very much concerned with light and texture in a color medium -- and to tremendous effect. One difference between him and Adams is that a great deal of Adams' effectiveness had to do with using filters, expanding and contracting development, and dodging and burning. On the other hand, as a 35mm slide film user, Rowell's approach was one of being in the perfect place at the perfect time -- something a lot easier to do with a 35mm Nikon.
Agreed. I always look for texture and dynamic lighting conditions, similar to Galen Rowell, although I work in LF. It is just as important when doing color photography.
Originally Posted by DrPablo
I think one has also to consider the presence of a fine color print when discussing the impact of color. We who are so used to low quality color images on the web, in print media, TV, etc.,etc. sometimes tend to forget how a fine color print can effect us by its mere presence. Most of the color "prints" hanging about fall into the poster category, even with a nice matte and frame.
Originally Posted by roteague
I haven't had the privilege of viewing one of Roberts prints, but I do have some JD Callow Cibas that are printed to intimidating standards, and show a degree of craftsmanship that is on a par with any of the fine B&W prints I own.
This is largely what I meant above when I was referring to the cultural influence on us both as artists and audiences. It's very likely that people have a world of different associations with B&W images than they do with color. B&W is a very iconic look for art galleries, newspapers photos, old time movies, the unspoiled west, New York and Chicago in the early 20th century, WWII, etc. And these associations probably influence which subjects people choose to shoot in B&W.
Originally Posted by JBrunner
Color is a changing landscape, because there are definitely colors we associate with the 50s and 60s, the more saturated colors of recent decades, and the stylistic color washes of the last few years (think of the greenish cast in The Matrix and the desaturated wash of Saving Private Ryan). Color is used abstractly in a lot of ways, as those two movie examples indicate (but elsewhere as well -- the bright primary colors in schools and pediatricians' offices versus the omnipresent mauve in OB/GYN offices).