I’ve been thinking a lot about black and white photography lately.
It’s what I started with: watching prints come up in a darkroom tray of developer, the images emerging like ghosts at first, then slowly taking on their true forms. Those days are gone but still hold lots of magic and mystery for me, the beginnings of my love affair with the art and craft of photography.
Then there’s the recent controversy over the supposed new Ansel Adams prints. (Although based upon this recent New York Times story, the lid may be getting blown off this whole tale.)
So when the annual New Orleans White Linen Night rolled around I decided to shoot black and white for the event. My Canon cameras have a ‘monochrome’ Picture Style that I can dial in which actually does create black and white images in the camera. I set the camera up this way ahead of time, rather than just planning to do black and white conversions later in Photoshop.
Because so much of ‘seeing’ photographically involves previsualization: You’re out shooting, watching events/objects/people, waiting for the right moment or the right light…whether you’re thinking and seeing in color or black and white is a HUGE aspect in how you’re approaching this whole activity you’re engaged in. It affects everything you’re doing. Color being such a giant factor in our perception, if you’re not intentionally working in black and white on a mental level, you are by default already working in color. I find that ends up meaning few if any good photographs that convert well to black and white.
Besides, it’s fun to shoot black and white! It’s a great way to change how you approach your work, to give yourself a little kick in the pants. If you haven’t shot black and white recently (or at all), I encourage you to try it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog