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Author Topic: photographing in black and white and in color  (Read 71803 times)

Isaac

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photographing in black and white and in color
« on: March 04, 2015, 11:59:13 am »

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The difference between photographing in black and white and in color are enormous; in the words of Edwin Land, black and white is "the language for delineating objects," and color photography "the language for displaying illumination."

Weston J Naef in "Intimate Landscapes: Photographs by Eliot Porter" p131 (quoting Polariod Corporation Annual Report 1977 p3)


Incidentally, "Intimate Landscapes: Photographs by Eliot Porter" seems to be available in multiple formats from the Internet Archive.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2015, 04:53:08 pm by Isaac »
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Diego Pigozzo

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2015, 03:04:32 pm »

I wonder what "the language for displaying illumination" was (if there was one) before color films.
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Isaac

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2015, 02:21:14 pm »

"the language for displaying illumination"River Edge at Sunset ?
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Iluvmycam

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2015, 03:38:33 pm »

The “I only shoot BW” photogs can sometimes do an image injustice if they stick to their dogmatic position 100%. Now, I used to be one of those types back in the 1970’s before branching out to color in the 1980’s.

(nsfw)

http://danielteolijr.tumblr.com/

I would look down on the color photogs…I was a purest. It is all ego driven nonsense. The bottom line is this - let the image dictate BW or color, not your ego.

Sometimes the image will work either way. If so, do what you like. Other times it needs to be in color or BW only. Let the image decide and do what is best for the image.
 
Sometimes the BW fanatics materially destroy the image without thinking about it when they drop the color.  Take a look at this example. It shows how you can lose important information if you put your ego first.

http://testarchives.tumblr.com/image/110723876609

The above example could have worked in BW or color. But when it goes BW you lose the bluish light on the upper left. The blue light signifies the prostitute depicted in the graf is a male transsexual. So, that's what is lost in the BW version.

Ernst Hass on the subject from the 1981 book World Photography by Bryn Campbell.

"There are black and white snobs, as well as colour snobs. Because of their inability to use both well, they act on the defensive and create camps. We should never judge a photographer by what film he uses - only by how he uses it."

In my own case I do social documentary photography for love of freezing time. I don't do it for money or contests. As such I do whatever I like as long as I feel I have done the image justice and can stand behind the photo.

If I want to HDR an image...I do.

(nsfw)
 
http://bikermardigras.tumblr.com/image/105630766748
« Last Edit: March 05, 2015, 03:44:21 pm by Iluvmycam »
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Diego Pigozzo

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2015, 05:33:38 am »

Well, I think that a lot of the chatter about black&white vs color is very much like the chatter about megapixel/lens quality/dynamic range/whatever, which are issues which are more easily discussed than issues like "artistic value", "vision", "coherence" and all the other non-physical content of a shot.
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philaitman

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2015, 05:49:54 am »

I don't have much to add to this discussion except a thank you for a link to the book. It contains some wonderful imagery.

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Isaac

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2015, 01:30:51 pm »

If you're lucky you might find some other Eliot Porter photobooks in your local library.
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Isaac

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2015, 01:38:15 pm »

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I always shoot one roll of black-and-white, and then one roll of colour. It's pretty unusual. I don't think any other photographers work that way because most want to use a different kind of make-up for a black-and-white image. But I'm a bit more 'throw it against the wall and see what sticks' in my approach.

Rankin, p154 Image Makers, Image Takers


I suppose with digital raw most of us work that way now.
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Jonathan Wienke

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2015, 09:34:13 pm »

If you mean a raw file can be processed into a color or B&W image, I agree. IMO the color/B&W decision is best made while comparing renderings of the image to see which works best.
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Isaac

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2015, 11:02:33 pm »

It's no longer: either/or.
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Diego Pigozzo

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2015, 05:43:24 am »

... the color/B&W decision is best made while comparing renderings of the image to see which works best.
If it was always the case it could indicate a lack of vision, in the sense that the photographer don't previsualize his/her shot in BW (or color) while shooting.

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Isaac

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2015, 06:04:10 pm »

If it was always the case it could indicate a lack of vision, in the sense that the photographer don't previsualize his/her shot in BW (or color) while shooting.

"Sometimes he produced two sets of the same photo, one in black and white and one in colour…"

Henri Cartier-Bresson – Here and Now, page 221
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Diego Pigozzo

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2015, 04:53:00 am »

"Sometimes he produced two sets of the same photo, one in black and white and one in colour…"

Henri Cartier-Bresson – Here and Now, page 221

That's why I wrote "If it was always the case it could indicate a lack of vision".
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Isaac

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2015, 12:45:44 pm »

That's why writing "If it was always the case it could indicate a lack of vision" says nothing ;-)

Meanwhile:

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"I'm not keen on publishing colour photos with the article on the aesthetics of photography," he writes. "At this point in its technical development, colour photography is, as I see it, no more than a documentary tool; it cannot be a means of artistic expression, since nature offers both colour and value in abundance. We know that a painter has to choose between these two contradictory approaches. As far as I am concerned, I think this choice is a dilemma that it is currently impossible to resolve, particularly for a photographer who is interested in life."

1958, "Henri Cartier-Bresson – Here and Now", page 221
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Diego Pigozzo

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2015, 12:50:55 pm »

That's why writing "If it was always the case it could indicate a lack of vision" says nothing ;-)

It says something to those willing to at least try to understand.
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Isaac

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2015, 12:59:54 pm »

It's innuendo that we can use to denigrate someone else.
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Diego Pigozzo

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2015, 01:11:11 pm »

It's innuendo that we can use to denigrate someone else.

You're right: we can continue Ad infinitum, but I have far better things to do.
So let's agree I said nothing and you didn't understand what I said.
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amolitor

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2015, 03:56:00 pm »

I can't make sense of the initial quote. B&W is, to my eye, far more likely to be about chiaroscuro than color is, and isn't that "illumination"?

Also, I am slightly boggled by the laissez faire attitude toward color versus b&w. To me, they're totally different things, and it's instantly obvious whether a picture should be b&w or color. The pictures that can work either way are rare and, usually, trivial.
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Isaac

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Isaac

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Re: photographing in black and white and in color
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2015, 07:41:38 pm »

So let's agree I said nothing and you didn't understand what I said.

I flatter myself, I have some vague understanding of how little I know about the huge world that is photography; so let me ask you -- What prizes are awarded only to photographers who "previsualize his/her shot in BW (or color) while shooting"?
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