Black & White vs Color

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  • Tina ManleyTina Manley Major grins Registered Users Posts: 179 Major grins
    edited January 9, 2010
    WillCAD wrote:
    You know BD, I'm beginning to get the impression that you really dislike working in color and don't care for anyone else's color work, either. Maybe that's a mistaken impression, but I'm only going by your posts in this thread.

    I disagree with your assertion that color photos are more about the color than they are about the subject. Subject IS color; every object in the universe reflects various wavelengths of light, and the human eye can detect a wide range of those wavelengths. Color is an inherent and vital part of EVERY photographic subject, as much as a human subject's hair and clothing. [/IMG]

    I respectfully disagree. I still think that when you photograph people in black and white, you see their faces (eyes, soul, whatever you want to put in there). When you photograph people in color, you see their clothes. Unless there is a particular reason for emphasizing color, people and street-scenes and documentary are better in B&W. That does not include portraits or weddings which are a whole different scene. Selective coloring belongs with velvet Elvises. IMHO.

    Tina
  • RichardRichard Mildly bemused Madrid, SpainAdministrators, Vanilla Admin Posts: 19,360 moderator
    edited January 9, 2010
    WillCAD wrote:
    Not being a completely inflexible person (by about 1/2%, but still...), I have tried your suggestions. Any better? (keep in mind that I'm pretty ham-handed in Photoshop).

    IMO, this one says "Hey, look at the bride and groom!" more than any of the others.
  • craig_dcraig_d Grinnin' Registered Users Posts: 911 Major grins
    edited January 9, 2010
    WillCAD wrote:
    Not being a completely inflexible person (by about 1/2%, but still...), I have tried your suggestions. Any better? (keep in mind that I'm pretty ham-handed in Photoshop).

    I think this is much better than the other versions you've posted. In fact, it's pretty cool. It has a sort of magical, dreamy quality that is very appropriate to envisioning two people in love.
    http://craigd.smugmug.com

    Got bored with digital and went back to film.
  • WillCADWillCAD Grinning Buffoon Registered Users Posts: 722 Major grins
    edited January 9, 2010
    And just because I can't resist tinkering, here's yet another version. This one is identical to the 4th version above, except that I turned the background to mono after I blurred it.

    761186063_j3arn-L.jpg
    What I said when I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time: "The wide ain't wide enough and the zoom don't zoom enough!"
  • TonyCooperTonyCooper Major grins Orlando, FloridaRegistered Users Posts: 2,243 Major grins
    edited January 9, 2010
    bdcolen wrote:
    Good God, Tony. Do you just make this stuff up for the hell of it? Black and white has to be GRITTY? You consider the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson GRITTY? Karsh's portraits - (vastly overrated rolleyes1.gif ) are GRITTY? Ansel Adams work is GRITTY?! Or how about Weston's work? GRITTY?!?headscratch.gifheadscratch.gifheadscratch.gif

    Certainly I do. Not gritty in the sense of sandy, coarse, or abrasive, but gritty in the sense of realistic and hard-hitting. I'm not the first to use this word to describe photography.

    In a review of George Tice's (f/64 group)work, I see: "Tice, a New Jersey native, picked up the full range of influences and suggestions from these preceding generations , including sharp focus large format refined black and white imaging, regional documentation, social realism and hard-edged gritty urban photo-journalism, etc. Tice mastered all these genres, creating an impressive total oeuvre that spans fifty years of activity, celebrated in some two dozen books and countless exhibitions."

    I'll call your Cartier-Bresson and raise you a Stieglitz.

    In a commentary about Adams I see "Adams and his contemporaries portrayed the natural beauty of the West in ways that moved beyond the norm. The gritty, realistic renderings of their predecessors and the soft, unfocused styles of the the Pictoralist were replaced with bold, sharp, focused images by pioneers such as Paul Strand and Alfred Stieglitz...".

    In a blurb about William Klein on a Metropolitan Museum of Art's page, they say: "[FONT=geneva,arial,sans-serif]William Klein (American, born 1928) was twenty-six and living in Paris when Alexander Liberman, then the art director of Vogue, invited him to return to New York City to work on special projects for the magazine. For his first series, Klein proposed a photographic diary about how it felt to return home after eight years abroad. For months, Klein roamed the streets of New York, turning out images that were as gritty and dynamic as the city itself. "

    I'm not making stuff up or covering new ground here.

    [/FONT]
    Tony Cooper - Orlando, Florida
    http://tonycooper.smugmug.com/
  • black mambablack mamba Major grins Jacksonville, FLRegistered Users Posts: 7,553 Major grins
    edited January 10, 2010
    That's quite a superior response Tony. I understood exactly what you meant when you used the term " gritty ". The conflict of interpretation does, however, highlight the nuances of semantics that play out in the written and spoken word. I am very surprised, though, that BD hasn't seen the works, of some of the artists he mentions, referred to as " gritty " before.

    Tom
    I always wanted to lie naked on a bearskin rug in front of a fireplace. Cracker Barrel didn't take kindly to it.
  • bdcolenbdcolen CaptureReality Registered Users Posts: 3,804 Major grins
    edited January 10, 2010
    Richard wrote:
    Yes, OK, then we agree--on this one lol3.gif. Color is an important element, but that doesn't mean that the pic is about color. A crude B&W conversion of it is still a good pic:

    760910571_YShAS-L.jpg
    With apologies to William Eggleston

    The hair is still there, as is the great composition--the shadow, the woman in the background. A pic to be proud of. What is missing is the golden light.

    Thanks for the offer, but I'm more of a West Coast guy, so I think I'll wait for the GGB. deal.gif

    But the "golden light" is what makes it so special - imho. :D
    [email protected]
    "He not busy being born is busy dying." Bob Dylan

    "The more ambiguous the photograph is, the better it is..." Leonard Freed
  • bdcolenbdcolen CaptureReality Registered Users Posts: 3,804 Major grins
    edited January 10, 2010
    That's quite a superior response Tony. I understood exactly what you meant when you used the term " gritty ". The conflict of interpretation does, however, highlight the nuances of semantics that play out in the written and spoken word. I am very surprised, though, that BD hasn't seen the works, of some of the artists he mentions, referred to as " gritty " before.

    Tom

    The question, Tom and Tony, was whether being black and white made something "gritty," not whether particular work of particular artists could be considered "gritty." The quickly Googled quotes aside, I stand by what I said. mwink.gif
    [email protected]
    "He not busy being born is busy dying." Bob Dylan

    "The more ambiguous the photograph is, the better it is..." Leonard Freed
  • TonyCooperTonyCooper Major grins Orlando, FloridaRegistered Users Posts: 2,243 Major grins
    edited January 10, 2010
    bdcolen wrote:
    The question, Tom and Tony, was whether being black and white made something "gritty," not whether particular work of particular artists could be considered "gritty." The quickly Googled quotes aside, I stand by what I said. mwink.gif

    There was no question of the sort asked. I posited that there is a school of thought that says that black and white photographs should be, among other things, "gritty". "Gritty", in this context, is hard-edged and realistic.

    A brief Googling foray shows that such a school of thought does exist, that many of the luminaries of photography are identified as proponents of this school, and that my usage was neither "made up" nor inappropriate.

    Shouldn't the critiques be about photographs, not adjectives?
    Tony Cooper - Orlando, Florida
    http://tonycooper.smugmug.com/
  • black mambablack mamba Major grins Jacksonville, FLRegistered Users Posts: 7,553 Major grins
    edited January 10, 2010
    Now wait a minute, BD. Tony simply stated ( to paraphrase his words ) that being " gritty " was an important element of B&W photography. At which time you promptly hit him with your " Good God " remarks and, additionally, you mentioned several photographers....implying that it would be nigh on to blasphemy to consider their works to be gritty.

    Tony was able to introduce evidence that some pretty influential sources also felt that the works of some B&W masters, at least one of which you had mentioned, were indeed considered to be gritty. I think Tony's position has been confirmed as appropriate. He is certainly not guilty of making things up.....as you accused him to be.

    I personally feel that it was a little petty on your part to imply that his research was less valid than it should be because it was " quickly googled ".

    Tom
    I always wanted to lie naked on a bearskin rug in front of a fireplace. Cracker Barrel didn't take kindly to it.
  • damonffdamonff film Registered Users Posts: 1,894 Major grins
    edited January 10, 2010
    bdcolen wrote:
    Or imagine one of Smith or Salgado's images with a great big yellow sunflower in the middle of it. rolleyes1.gifrolleyes1.gif

    Hahahahahaha
  • seastackseastack Major grins Registered Users Posts: 716 Major grins
    edited January 11, 2010
    I'm not disagreeing with B.D. on this but ... but ... I do think making street, p.j., documentary or whatever that style of humanistic photography you wish to call it, work in color is infinitely more difficult than black and white and it can be done... but many more planets have to come into alignment with both composition and color palette.

    I smiled at the reference to Alex Webb, although I'm note sure his work is ALL about color but the point is well taken. Some of the greatest work I can think of is in color but not necessarily about color exclusively. I'm thinking of William Albert Allard and David Alan Harvey who rewrote the visual language for NatGeo in the 70s and 80s, or Joel Meyerowitz' street work, or the more contemporary Jonas Bendiksen whose fairly recent book Satellites is one of my all-time favorites. So yeah, maybe 95 percent of time if the photo is going to be about the subject and not the pretty colors then black and white is going to work best but a few of the truly greats can roll it all together for that breathtaking five percent proving there are no absolutes. There are so many contemporary black and white masters I truly love, and there are few color ones, and even fewer who can do both (Nachtwey comes to mind, and Trent Parke another).

    I keep working toward that 5 percent and man, it is breathtakingly difficult to try to compose in three dimensions on the fly with subtleties and energy and moments and juxtapositions on multiple layers and to achieve this while not having color work against the composition itself. Actually, I have yet to really do it to my satisfaction. To me at least, I enjoy the chase and even appreciate the failure and lessons learned from trying to do something so few have been able to effectively pull off.

    Black and white is too easy ;-))) Lose the crutch B.D. ;-)))

    Oh man, now I've done it ... all in good fun ...
  • michswissmichswiss Stuffed Animal Melbourne, AustraliaRegistered Users, Retired Mod Posts: 2,235 Major grins
    edited January 11, 2010
    seastack wrote:
    I'm not disagreeing with B.D. on this but ... but ... I do think making street, p.j., documentary or whatever that style of humanistic photography you wish to call it, work in color is infinitely more difficult than black and white and it can be done... but many more planets have to come into alignment with both composition and color palette.

    [snip]

    I keep working toward that 5 percent and man, it is breathtakingly difficult to try to compose in three dimensions on the fly with subtleties and energy and moments and juxtapositions on multiple layers and to achieve this while not having color work against the composition itself. Actually, I have yet to really do it to my satisfaction. To me at least, I enjoy the chase and even appreciate the failure and lessons learned from trying to do something so few have been able to effectively pull off.

    Black and white is too easy ;-))) Lose the crutch B.D. ;-)))

    Oh man, now I've done it ... all in good fun ...

    There's the answer, the whole answer and nothing but the answer. Colour can work, but it's damn hard. I'm going to leave my B&W training wheels on for a while until I'm better at the basics.
  • RichardRichard Mildly bemused Madrid, SpainAdministrators, Vanilla Admin Posts: 19,360 moderator
    edited January 12, 2010
    seastack wrote:
    ... it is breathtakingly difficult to try to compose in three dimensions on the fly with subtleties and energy and moments and juxtapositions on multiple layers and to achieve this while not having color work against the composition itself.

    nod.gif Bingo. But as you say, something worth striving for. thumb.gif
  • ruttrutt Cave canem! Registered Users Posts: 6,511 Major grins
    edited January 12, 2010
    There was no stronger advocate of working in color than me until I took B.D.'s class. He didn't convert me so much as make me realize that by working in B&W I would concentrate on composition and content, the elements of photographer where I had the most room for improvement. Now I look back at some of my color pictures from before I took the class, and I still like the best of them a lot. But I'm finding that B&W gives me much greater latitude. I can shoot at noon in harsh light or in very dim light at a party and the results in B&W are still very creditable.

    Anyway, I'm still absorbing what I learned from B.D. I'm sure that color has a future for me, but now B&W does as well.

    Moral: Sometimes it's worth it not to question the assumptions of someone who has something worth teaching.
    If not now, when?
  • seastackseastack Major grins Registered Users Posts: 716 Major grins
    edited January 12, 2010
    Yeah I really do love both. I grew up doing black and white in the darkroom and by age 12 was teaching others how to spool, agitate, etc. as a teacher's asst. By 15 I was into pushing, Rodinol and high contrast and by age 16, well, there were cars, girls, and beer so the darkroom got left behind for a time. I think black and white is timeless and I shoot both color and black and white, film and digital. I think it would be much better if I were to settle on either color or black and white, although I doubt I ever will. Often a good color photo will work well in black and white, and sometimes I use this as a measure of if it is, in fact, a good photo. Lately I've been going back to film quite a bit (mostly slide) for a certain aesthetic mixed in with digital so now I feel completely ADD! But lord have mercy, I do not want to start the film/digital debate, next thing you know it will move into daguerrotype vs. wet glass plates and we all know that glass plates are so much better!
  • bdcolenbdcolen CaptureReality Registered Users Posts: 3,804 Major grins
    edited January 13, 2010
    Now wait a minute, BD. Tony simply stated ( to paraphrase his words ) that being " gritty " was an important element of B&W photography. At which time you promptly hit him with your " Good God " remarks and, additionally, you mentioned several photographers....implying that it would be nigh on to blasphemy to consider their works to be gritty.

    Tony was able to introduce evidence that some pretty influential sources also felt that the works of some B&W masters, at least one of which you had mentioned, were indeed considered to be gritty. I think Tony's position has been confirmed as appropriate. He is certainly not guilty of making things up.....as you accused him to be.

    I personally feel that it was a little petty on your part to imply that his research was less valid than it should be because it was " quickly googled ".

    Tom

    Sorry, Tom, but I still disagree, and I'd still say that the idea of calling Ansel Adam's work, or the great bulk of Cartier-Bresson's work "gritty" is, well, laughable, no matter who or what calls it that. Same thing goes for a number of the artists cited. Stark, perhaps - certainly arguable. But gritty? The work of Eugene Richards is gritty; the work of Cartier-Bresson and Adams might better be described as sublime -though I'd be more inclined to describe most of Adams's work as dull, though technically wondrous.
    [email protected]
    "He not busy being born is busy dying." Bob Dylan

    "The more ambiguous the photograph is, the better it is..." Leonard Freed
  • RichardRichard Mildly bemused Madrid, SpainAdministrators, Vanilla Admin Posts: 19,360 moderator
    edited May 11, 2010
    Richard wrote: »
    If you don't like color, you're probably really going to hate it when photography goes 3D. Think it's not going to happen? Wanna bet? mwink.gif

    Sorry to revive an old thread--and I certainly don't want to revive the old argument rolleyes1.gif--but I just wanted to note that I read today that the June issue of Playboy is going to feature a 3D centerfold. Pr0n was at the leading edge of video on the Internet way back when, so I wonder whether this is just the beginning.
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