Thinking in Black and White

We live in a colourful world - and most of the time we expect our photos of that world to show the colour we see ourselves. Some like more saturation and some less, some a slightly "cooler" view and some a "warmer" view, but usually we like to reproduce our vision in colour. Of course that has not always been the case - for some of us, even television changed from a Black and White medium to a colour one during our own memory. I recall as a child thinking that the whole workd must have been black and white at some point - so was often shocked to see the colours in clothing when I was taken to a musuem - it didn't make sense.


Of course now I know that it is merely the result of the photographic process at the time - but it is interesting to remember how I felt. Today, I view Black and White as a very EXPRESSIVE medium for photographs that really can add an entriely new dimension to what I want to show and what I want to remember in my photographs. Black and White simply suits some subjects far better than colour - in any rendition. There seems to be a whole lot of stuff around - on the web and published in books - about the technical ways to make digital photos look good in Black and White (some of them scarily complex) and lots of "hints and tips" in Photoshop and other insanely complex processes. In my humble opinion, the trick is to get these things right in the camera in the first place and learn how to "THINK" in black and white.

Black and white is all about light and shade. You have that and no more to play with. That gives a very 2 dimensional canvas in mnay ways. You have to look for texture everywhere as it can convey shape. You cannot use stark colour to draw the eye - you have to use a line, and a bold one at that so it can be readily seen. Put simply, you have to be able to look at the world in shades of grey and see your picture in your ind in Black and White - even if you camera doesn't and you need to "develop" it further.

Nikon Scan 3802011

All of these photos were taken on Black and White film - usually from Fuji or Kodak - on Hasselblad equipment. I belieev all would not tell anything like the story they do if they were in colour - in fact a couple of them would not garner a second look. Black and White gives them a sense of texture that colour would not be able to. Here are some converted from digital files to Black and White.



© David Runacres 2014