Black and white photography is a technique that creates a unique impression upon the viewer that cannot be seen in traditional color photograph. No one has to be an expert to realize when looking at a black and white image, that it is something out of the ordinary. Black and white and color photography are two different languages. (Hass 14) Looking at two images side by side, one black and white and one color, the color photograph may be striking, although when just glancing that opinion may be true but looking at them for a long period of time, the colorless picture will prove its self by composition using shadows and highlights.
The darkness that seems to be apparent in a black and white photograph usually brings the viewer to believe it is sad and depressing but that opinion is in the eye of the beholder, can a photograph of a sunset be sad and depressing just because it is in black and white? The ultimate truth is that the black and white digital photography can make the world look completely different from what it is through the human eyes (Jelling 1). Many digital photographers actually prefer to shoot images intentionally being black and white, in low contrast situations. So a dark or overcast day can be a great time to shoot out door shots.
Most of the time for black and white photography, after the image is taken, it doesnt need to be photo shopped or edited because the beauty stands on its own. In a color photograph, a lot of editing has to be done because of all the complex colors and shades. For example, red eye can be seen in a color photograph but cannot be seen in a black and white photograph. Many visual tools are used in a colorless photograph including: form, tone, texture and pattern. All of these visual tools are more prominent because there is nothing to take away from the original art of what has been captured.
In a color photograph, the color is stealing the viewers attention or distracting it away from being a great photo and the appeal of the image is less in the art and more in the color. The viewer is more fascinated with the pretty colors than the deep truth that a black and white image beholds. Color is seen as a major distraction to the overall mood of the picture, when color is removed, the subject can be seen much better. What does black and white convey to the viewer? Separateness and coolness with overtones of art, age and credibility (In Living Color 1).
Anyone can see the difference a black and white image holds, it is clear that there is a difference and the subject stands out unlike a color photograph where only the color is seen as a whole, in black and white, what is trying to be seen is clear. Light and dark are the fundamental photographic components. Black and white was once the only kind of image available. However, a black and white image contains more than just black and white, light and dark, it has a full range of tones from paper white through light, mid and dark greys to dense black. (Prakel 15).
Black and white Photography always gives one the feeling of looking at real art. While sometimes bad photographers use the method (of using black and white photography) to cover their inability to take a good shot, in the hands of a true master, black and white shows the best photography can offer. (Enk and Delbos 1). Unlike the average person taking pictures in black and white, professionally done black and white photographs can be stunning and nothing like any other type.
Many photographers regard colorless photography as the purest form of photography available, even compared to still life. The definition of black and white photography is any type of photography in which form, tone, texture, and pattern are the main focus of attention in a photograph. Color depicts reality and with a colorless photography it is unrealistic, meaning the human eye cannot see what the camera sees, we see color in everything but a colorless photograph shows us what we cannot see. It allows the viewer to interpret reality through a photographic medium.
Black and white images are, by their nature, abstract and can tolerate much more tonal manipulation without sacrificing realism because it works in a spectrum of black and white and everything in between. The sheer beauty of a well-lit black and white frame is hard to beat because its difficult to produce that type of focus and simplicity when youre shooting in color. (Caterson 1) Lighting is a major part of black and white photography; it redefines the image into something great. Light turns an average picture into a magnificent one, if he lighting is done right. Shadows play an important role in the composition of a black and white photograph. That is why black and white photographers shoot their pictures in a very well lit environment. I suppose I would describe black and white, or monochrome photography as a filter. It fitters out the color so you become aware of the light, the shadows, the composition and not the color. (Caterson 1) Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph. Andre Kertesz, Photographer.
The most prominent aspect of a black and white image is the feeling the viewer gets from looking at something that has color but has been taken and made into something that is made of greys and shades of contrast instead of what was a bright red is now black, for example. The feeling is usually somber and dark but can be taken as a good thing because the darkness portrayed comes from the instinctiveness of a black and white photograph being from history and the old days; black and white photography is associated with history because that was the only kind of photography available at that time.
Selenium toned, silver-based, black and white photographs have an inherent depth, luminosity, and 3-D quality, unlike that produced by any other process (Olssen 70) Just as in the media of the written word we have poems, essays, scientific and journalistic reports, novels, dramas and catalogues, so with photography we touch the domains of science, illustration, documentation and expressive art. Ansel Adams Photographer. Color photography of actual settings overwhelms with its specificity and leaves little to no room for distance and thereby for theory (Sassen 438).
Distance is something that color photography has trouble with grasping. Distance comes from the monochrome parts of an image that create the depth form a fade of one color. Shadow can be seen in that one color usually being grey in black and white and in color it turns out to be a mixture of colors that confuses the image as being movement instead of just distance.
The two form a striking juxtaposition that is a testament to the stark power of black and white photography to capture the range and depth of ascetics, emotions and, often unbeknown to its subjects, history. (Enk and Delbos 1) The credibility of black and white photography may seem to be fading away, although it is sure to shine as it did in the history books, telling its story so vividly. As important as it was then it is an art that has been extremely perfected throughout the years, it is now what no one thought it would become. It was thought to never return as color photography arose but even in the coming years, it will prove itself to viewers just as it did in the days when it was famous.