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A Question of Black and White.

ljesmith 16 1.1k United Kingdom
7 Mar 2005 4:01AM
I would like to get peoples veiws on black and white work on the site, when you look through the gallery do you look for a splash of colour on a thumbnail and therefor overlook straight black and white work. And do you prefer toned work to mono work.
I am not asking this for people to look at my work before the accusations come, I am genuinely interested in what people think of black and white photography as someone who personally loves it.
7 Mar 2005 4:04AM
Black and white, toned, selectively coloured, full on in your face colour, I look at the image as a whole, not a question of what colour it is for me, personally speaking.
keithh 17 25.7k 33 Wallis And Futuna
7 Mar 2005 4:04AM
Love B&W, but I have noticed it get's less attention than other images in technicolour.

As for browsing the gallery...I try and look at every shot loaded during the time I'm online...not always easy though.
digicammad 17 22.0k 40 United Kingdom
7 Mar 2005 4:05AM
For me it really depends upon the shot itself. In general I take more colour than b&w but some things just shout for the b&w and maybe high contrast treatment. I don't cherry pick photos to view so don't have to choose what I look at.

As far as toned photos, again it depends on the photo but for most things I tend to prefer straight b&w to toned.

pipapelada 16 135
7 Mar 2005 4:06AM
a good image is a good image regardless of the medium. If anything I'm more likely to stop and look at a b/w shot as I know somebody has taken more care over it (whether in the darkroom or working on it in PS) and is more likely to come from someone who has maybe an education in photography or has taken classes in printing etc
ljesmith 16 1.1k United Kingdom
7 Mar 2005 4:17AM
Thanks for the quick response guys, now I'm going to be a bit controversial. These are responses from people that I would say are a bit more visually aware than most, what I'm interested in is the people who aren't at that level of awareness, what do you think they look for when they see a thumbnail.

I'm going to post this and run away befor it explodes in my face.
keithh 17 25.7k 33 Wallis And Futuna
7 Mar 2005 4:21AM
colour, title (sometimes helps), breasts (often helps)
Mod icon...means they get to play, but often it's simply that some people browse at the end of the day and choose their fave category.
spaceman 16 5.3k 3 Wales
7 Mar 2005 4:21AM
I'd love to see more B/W, it's popularity is irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. Toning's OK if it's subtle - some of the "sepia" I see is so OTT that it just drowns the photograph.
ardbeg77 Plus
16 1.2k 7 United Kingdom
7 Mar 2005 4:22AM
Luke - Personally I love B+W, and would love to do more and see more. I don't doubt that as a whole a B+W thumbnail will generate less interest than a colour one. I don't think there's much you can do about it - one's eye is instinctively attracted to aptches of bright colour. Within that, for example, I'm sure B+W landscape attracts more attention then other shots, just as with colour.

conrad 16 10.9k 116
7 Mar 2005 4:22AM
So do you actually expect people to react with: "Yes, Im one of those who are not so visually aware, and I ..."? Fat chance! Or do you want us to guess what people who are not so visually aware would do? Or do you think we will reply, thinking that we are visually aware, when we are really not? Puzzled.

ljesmith 16 1.1k United Kingdom
7 Mar 2005 4:26AM
Fair enough Conrad, guess I didn't think about that statement enough. But then a lot of people say that they are on this sight to learn about photography, so maybe it would be fair to say that some people are at a different level of visual awareness than others, after all it is something you learn with photography.
conrad 16 10.9k 116
7 Mar 2005 4:32AM

Quote:some people are at a different level of visual awareness than others, after all it is something you learn with photography

Quite. True. But this means that all you can expect people on this site to say to your question is that they dont know how it works for people who are not so visually aware.

Having said that, I can tell you, of course, how it works for me. I do notice that full colour images demand more attention than b&w, I think that is the eyes natural reaction (even the trained eye). But I force myself to look at b&w, sepia etc. as well. Which means that I "eye" every page of thumbnails more than once before I decide which photos to look at. I have no personal preference for colour, b&w, duotone, sepia or whatever - I see striking examples from all of those categories.

I dont know how it works for other people, but thats how it works for me...

ljesmith 16 1.1k United Kingdom
7 Mar 2005 4:35AM
Thank you for that Conrad, yes I hadn't thought about how you would answere a question about your own visual awareness. Tricky one.
KenTaylor 16 3.1k 2 United Kingdom
7 Mar 2005 5:54AM
This is one of those handicaps on this site unless the thumbnail is of a high impact image. I have said in other threads that colour is sensuous. Our response to it is instant in that we see the world in colour. B&W is an abstraction reducing it to the form and tonal values. There are personal preferences in both but B&W as I know it comes from years in the darkroom searching for that elusive perfect print. A print well executed has a quality of its own that interprets the subject. On here all that is not possible as its a different medium. There are though images that work in both that I have seen many of on here. Digital has made it so incredably easy to convert, often done just for its own sake. That said new doors are open and I have learnt a lot from those with only a year or less using a camera, that is the way of seeing a subject, all that technical processing has been binned.
I have trouble taking shots in colour as I have to convince myself that as a photograph it would work. Rainbows are a good example getting immediate response.
The 500 limit takes away a lot of fine detail in the image that does not show in the thumbnail in B&W. No preference for toned work in B&w although I wished I could transfer tones produced in PS onto a fine art darkroom print.
I have preference for B&W. It is an interpretation that is more personal. Sadly I dont have the time to study every thumbnail on here leaving many being missed. That has to be considering the mass of work on here.
SteveCharles 18 2.3k 18 England
7 Mar 2005 8:43AM
I love black & white, it was a desire to learn how to produce 'classic' b&w that got me into photography in the first place, although I have developed more of an appreciation of colour in the meantime. I'm actually in a bit of a b&w phase, and I'm uploading and commenting on more b&w pictures at the moment.

I think subject matter plays a part. I'm not sure there are so many users of this site who appreciate 'real' b&w as much as other subjects. A quick look at the Readers Choice gallery will tell you what most EPZers like; landscapes, wildlife & flowers. These subjects have a lot of instant appeal and are easy to like, with bright colours, familiar views and broad appeal. By contrast, I think many black and white images are more subtle in their appeal. There are those who appreciate the work, and the comments are fewer but possibly more meaningful.

It's like the difference between Hollywood blockbusters and art house films. The powerful sunrise and sunset landscapes are the Spielberg productions, and the popcorn-eating masses lap them up. Others are a bit more Mike Leigh (like Luke's reportage, for example), and attract a small but knowledgable following.

I have to say, I don't think there is the best of any type of photography on Ephotozine. That may sound harsh, but don't get me wrong, I love the site, it's the only photography site I'm active on, because it's a real community. But it doesn't contain the best contempory photography, and as such doesn't necessarily attract in-depth appreciation and commentary on black & white (and many challenging colour) photography.

I hope that makes sense and no-one feels insulted!


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