Redemption in Black and White

There is the joke that every photograph becomes “art” if it is in black and white.  The joke exists for a reason – a lot of pictures that are boring in color become much more interesting in black and white, taking on a new life.

Even though I am a magpie, and am continually drawn to bright colors, the fact is, in art, colors can often confuse me and distract me when I try to work with them.  Paintings end in disaster because of a lack of self-control, and nowadays, a lack of experience and skill.

Maybe that is why I keep coming back to sumi-e – there are not the decisions to make about color, but only gradation and loading the brush.

When I think about what I like in black and white photography, it varies.  One thing which I love in B&W is its graphic nature.  In contrasty pictures, lines can make the eye wander in and out in ways color does not.

Color is subtle, and more luxurious.  Soft B&W, with long scale and low contrast, is akin to color because it is more dreamy, and requires more emotional investment.

I like the drama of contrasts which, for me, is the same as a loud noise – startling, awakening, even traumatic.


2 thoughts on “Redemption in Black and White

  1. James Reckitt

    Black and white is great. I’m red/green/brown colourblind, so when I shoot black and white I know I’m seeing exactly what my audience are seeing.

  2. -N- Post author

    You miss a lot without color, but you also miss a lot with color – or at least I do – because I am so enamored with it. B&W is wonderful for focusing on what makes up the picture. I like high key photography, too, because it points to an essence of something, or a suggestion, rather than all the details that are there. Extremely dark is the same way.

    Thanks for coming by!

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