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If...........B&W

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User_Removed 11 455 13 United Kingdom
7 Aug 2010 10:03AM
Just a thought that has come out of the other B&W threads.....

If photography had started as a colour medium would we have B&W photography now - would someone have invented it as development of colour or as an alternative approach?

If they did, would we see B&W differently?

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franken e2
12 3.3k 4 Wales
7 Aug 2010 10:13AM
I remember a discussion in a photographic mag about this many years ago and the conclusion was that there is no real answer to the question as B&W started first.


Ken
User_Removed 11 455 13 United Kingdom
7 Aug 2010 10:21AM

Quote:there is no real answer to the question as B&W started first.


Of course, there is no 'real' answer, but underlying the question is about our relationship to the medium and how this relates to the history of it. It's a 'what does it mean?' sort of question I suppose.

There are many valuable questions that can be asked that have no 'real' answer - certainly no definitive answer. That is the nature of human exploration of ideas.

It also I think, relates to how those who were brought up in a colour world might see it.

It would be interesting to get a perspective on this from younger members.
franken e2
12 3.3k 4 Wales
7 Aug 2010 10:41AM
I know where you are coming from here.

If colour was created first and b&W film and processing etc came along about 70 years or so later would it have been as popular as it is now or ever was?

Who really knows the answer?

A point worth noting is that most young members (but not all) who dabble with B&W now probably convert colour digital images to that medium. This would not have been possible that long ago.
They may have become interested in the history of photography that started with B&W?

Some of the greates images ever taken were in B&W but would they have been even better in colour?

I started off with B&W as it was the most popular photographic medium at that time. I would have started off with colour if it had been the most popular medium at that time.

Ken
User_Removed 11 455 13 United Kingdom
7 Aug 2010 11:15AM

Quote:most young members (but not all) who dabble with B&W now probably convert colour digital images to that medium


I would think that's true of a lot of members, whatever the age. From a personal viewpoint that is just the process. I take colour digital images even when my sole intention is B&W because they contain the image relevant for the conversion process. This process emulates the use of different film types and filters but has the flexibility of being able to make the decision after the event, and to plan a different approach for each frame if you want to.

Although the chemical approach is less convenient and popular, the history of it still drives the digital process. What we we be doing without that history? How would we think differently about the medium?
fatherpie e2
6 18 12 England
8 Aug 2010 6:55PM

Quote:I started off with B&W as it was the most popular photographic medium at that time. I would have started off with colour if it had been the most popular medium at that time.


Personally, B&W was all I could afford when I started. I used to buy the film in bulk and load it into cassettes myself before developing and printing in the kitchen. Happy days but whilst I've returned to film more recently I can't see me buying an enlarger again - scanning is far more convenient.

Dave
keith selmes
11 7.1k 1 United Kingdom
8 Aug 2010 7:21PM
Colour sometimes obscures the shapes and patterns in an image. Removing it enables us to see more clearly, creating a more powerful image.

I don't think, even if we could rejig history, colour photography would ever come first, chemical or digital, because mono is easier. We had mono printers and displays years before colour entered computing. But perhaps also colour is more complicated for our brains, so removing it sometimes unconfuses us.

If it could have happened that colour photography came first, I think Black and White printing would be hailed as an innovative and powerful new art form.
Printing mono in other colour shades might be different, as perhaps it tends to have a different emotional effect.
Certainly B&W, or perhaps a more generalised monochrome, would be a recognised genre.

Whether anyone would bother making B&W film in a digital era is another matter. It might be a bit too esoteric and artsy for most people.
KenTaylor e2
10 3.0k 2 United Kingdom
8 Aug 2010 8:32PM

Quote:because mono is easier.

Far from it for a quality image that holds as many tones as it can.
Printing on quality paer in B&W is not as easy either.

There is a new 120 B&W film along with a new 120 format camera for a small market that may in fact be growing.

I nearly forgot that there is a new enlarger also on the market from Paterson filling the gap left by Meopta,

Take a look at the Silverprint website.
User_Removed 11 455 13 United Kingdom
8 Aug 2010 8:39PM

Quote:because mono is easier


I think Keith was referring to the technology processes, but your points are still valid.
keith selmes
11 7.1k 1 United Kingdom
8 Aug 2010 8:54PM

Quote:Quote:because mono is easier.
Far from it for a quality image that holds as many tones as it can.
Printing on quality paer in B&W is not as easy either



Quote:I think Keith was referring to the technology processes

Yes I was. The chemistry of mono emulsion and printing is much simpler than for colour, and the same applies to the display or printing with digital equipment, and I think digital sensors as well. You can buy the chemicals you need for monochrome photography in supermarkets and health food shops and pet stores, and just get on with it. I don't think you can do that with colour photography. Likewise you can slice memory chips in half to expose the circuitry, and use them as image sensors, but you would need extra components for colour.

If civilization were going in reverse, we could have chemical mono photography long after we lost electricity, computers, and colour photography.
ade_mcfade e2
10 15.1k 216 England
8 Aug 2010 10:33PM
people like Escher create mono art, so i guess there would have been demand to have the same for photography

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