Today, color photographs have become more pervasive than black-and-white ones, with film stocks and digital cameras capable of capturing color faithful to the way the human eye experiences the world. Yet photographers may still choose to capture black-and-white images, and this may simply represent an exploration into the form of the medium. Removing the color from an image gives greater emphasis to the way the light plays across the scene, to the lines and angles and shadowing that make up the form of most photos. By removing the potential distraction of color, photographers can experiment with and explore the elements of form that are highlighted in black-and-white photographs and but are less emphasized when color is included.
In the early days of the medium, taking a black-and-white photograph was nothing more than a technical decision. The very first photographs were taken using a device known as a camera obscura, which could not capture color on its own. And, even though the first color image was made as early as 1861, the appearance of this color did not have the same quality as color had in reality, and many photographers chose to continue the process of photographing in black and white. It was not until the mid-1900s that color photography caught up in convenience and realism to black-and-white photography. Consequently, many of the most influential early photographs were taken in black and white, not to symbolize anything in particular, but simply because the tools made this aesthetic most viable to photographers of the time.
Black white photograph is mother of all photographs and will stay at least at me still the most popular, because that to express with her enough more than with color. Gives some us appear around enough more concretely, events are more realist. In any case “queen of photograph”. ages ago (permalink)
It’s the most beautiful way to display any subject matter on earth. I take almost every photo I take and convert to b&w. ages ago (permalink)
Black and White Landscapes: Weekly Photogrpahy Challenge 6 years ago
Which do you prefer – Black and White or Color?What do you like about your preference? Have you experimented much with Black and White digital photography? Interested to hear your thoughts in comments below.
One of the questions I’m being asked about more and more lately is about Black and White Digital Photography.
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No Distractions“I find that colors can be terribly distracting in some images and can take the focus away from your subject. I do portrait work and find that taking the color out of an image lets the subject speak for themselves. Its raw, it’s stripped back, it’s honest and it allows you to show the true person.” – Shane
Versatility“I love that it’s a format that suits almost any type of photography. Portraits, landscapes, urban landscapes, architecture. Not only that, it’s a medium that adapts really well to all lighting situations. Whereas color photography often works best on sunny days or in brightly lit studios – low light just makes a black and white image moody.’ – Sol
Black and white really creates mood, i love using it for shots which i try to express thoughts or emotional… to me black and white autumatically represents a thought or feeling. ages ago (permalink)
As I said yesterday in the post announcing our Black and White Assignment it seems as though Black and White images are making something of a comeback of late as digital camera owners rediscover the beauty of mono images.
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I also take a lot of b/w shots. I think it lends an air of sophistication and art to images because it masks any distractions that might stem from loud or conflicting colors, and gives an image a more polished look. Originally posted ages ago. (permalink) Heather Gallay edited this topic ages ago.
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Variety“I find the creative process with black and white images is so… artistic. It’s like molding clay – you can shape it into a myriad of shapes. Black and White images can be strong, high contrast and powerful – or they can be so soft, gentle and subtle.” – Belle
Hi All – Now that we’ve recently relaunched Black and White group, we’d like …
I like the way bw puts an emphasis on shape and light. It simplifies a scene to better reveal the essence of it, and perhaps by doing so, it reveals more of what is there, shows what the colors might be distract you from noticing. ages ago (permalink)
In a picture where the form is what counts, mono simplifies things so that the form comes through pure. If the colour is what counts, then colour is better. My 2c. ages ago (permalink)
Part of it is that I just like the look of BW. It fits well with my interest in old cameras. Color is possibly the most emotionally powerful visual aspect. It can easily dominate and/or obscure the other visual aspects that make up an image (form, tone, shape, pattern, texture, etc…). Color is so powerful, that even when everything else works, if the color is bland, harsh, or otherwise wrong for the image, it can break the photo completely. I like BW because I prefer to concentrate on, and emphasize those other visual aspects. For me good BW is easier to achieve than good color working within the limitations of existing light. Particularly with landscape photography there’s just more opportunity to photograph with BW. I wish I had the time to wait for the perfect light on a scene to take a color photograph, but with kids, job, life, etc… I don’t always have that time. If I do manage to be in the right place at the right time you bet I’m happy to take some color photographs. But for color the right light can come and go in a matter of moments. Another thing is that in the past it’s been a lot easier to manipulate BW. I can adjust contrast, burn, dodge, etc… easily in my BW darkroom. In the color darkroom you can’t push the manipulations as far without it getting a little crazy looking. Now days digital gives a lot more control over color processing and printing, and I’m finding since I got my DSLR I’m shooting more color for personal work than I used to. But I still just love the look of a well printed BW photograph. ages ago (permalink)
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B/W is a removal of reality, we live in a color world, so b/w is a unnatural way for us to see. It allows us to see our world in a unique way, and lends a timelessness to the photo. Color can lock an image in time, but b/w images transcend time. B/W is often more concerned w/compostion, framing shapes, contrasts. Color is more often about finding strong colors that grab the eye. ages ago (permalink)
If the big response to the assignment is anything to go by readers of this blog LOVE black and white photography too (I’ve used a few of the images submitted in the assignment on this post to whet your appetite).
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Photography as an art form is something that is constantly shifting, shaped and redefined by the artists who create it. Those looking for symbolism and double meanings in photographs can often find examples, though this symbolism is not always the reason for the technical aspects of a photograph. With black-and-white photography, the quality of having no color can be a part of a photograph for a number of reasons, ranging from the purely technical to the wholly symbolic.
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why do we find ourselves looking for an image in black and white? does it add some drama to the whole scenario? atmosphere perhaps? or is it just that the world looks better in black and white? I just got a digital camera, and I’ve been using the black and white mode in almost 90% of my shots, to me…it means photography, it reminds me of all the black and white work I did to learn about composition, exposure, developing, printing, it means the whole process, but also I love all the millions of shades of gray trapped between the purest white you can get and the deepest black. Black and white means passion to me, what about you? 9:23AM, 28 September 2005 PDT (permalink)
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I have a few friends who are into Black and White photography and I asked them what it was that attracted them to it. Here are a few of their reasons for getting a little obsessed with Black and White:
Symbolism of Black-and-White Photography By Brianna Collins ; Updated September 15, 2017
Photographers may also choose very deliberately to use an aesthetic of black and white, not for technical reasons or to explore form or even to symbolize emotion, but simply to give layered meanings to a particular work. One example of this is the work of Regina de Miguel. While it is perhaps impossible to say with certainty what her pictures symbolize, they do tend to convey a certain sterility that comes with the lack of color. Critics have speculated that the muted, cloudy black-and-white images of mechanisms that she creates are symbolic of the dry instructional manuals that dictate the inner workings of the machines that surround us. Thus, simply draining the color from a photograph can shift add complexities, meanings, and other nuances to photographs that seek to convey some sort of message.
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Some of the comments here use the term mono while others use B&W. There is of course a difference, since it is possible to ‘tone’ B&W images with blue for example or sepia. How important do people see the distinction? Id there a reason why (other than personal preference) B&W is acceptable here but not sepia or blue toning? ages ago (permalink)
Subtlety of Tones“I love the subtlety of tones that black and white images can have. In a world that often boasts about how many millions of colors a TV or monitor is able to produce – I love that in ‘Mono’ there is such a variety of what can be achieved in a photo. Black and White sounds so boring – but the fact is that there are so many shades in between – I love the challenge of bringing them all out in an image!” – Jim
Photographers may also choose black and white in order to convey a certain emotion. While this is by no means an exact science, black-and-white photography can give an air of elegance or realism, particularly given the rich history that surrounds the medium. As such, wedding photographers will often use black-and-white photographs to symbolize the love, commitment and happiness of couples and families. Even in film-making, with images that are essentially just photographs in rapid succession, black-and-white images have been used in place of color in order to give special emotion to particular topics and stories. A good example of this is “Schindler’s List,” directed by Steven Spielberg in 1994 and utilizing black and white very deliberately to add to the horror and realism of this story.
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i feel that it allows you the look more at the lines, shapes, and forms of a photograph without getting caught up in all the colors. ages ago (permalink)
Of course the black and white vs color debate is a very personal one. For every person I ask who loves shooting mono there are others who much prefer the vibrancy of color photography.
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Black and white photography is a process of simplification, of abstraction, a process of boiling down an image or scene to its very essence and casting it in tarnished silver. A photo becomes a study in line and light and shadow, rather than a garish heap of colors. Black and white is a forgiving process too, capable of dropping needless details and distractions by rendering them in grey.If color photography is painting then black and white is sculpture. ages ago (permalink)