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Black and white photography .... a debatable subject.... comments required

hobbo Plus
9 1.7k 4 England
23 Nov 2020 8:35AM
An ex pro Photographer friend of mine, has been taking me to task recently about many of the images in my latest...Photo-book.... we both self published them as records and for family and friend use.....

He has taken me to task recently, about the strength of the blacks in many of my printed shots... all Street Photography and Street Portraits.... I love strong contrast as a design element .... love Film-Noir filters, and darker design elements.
I must state that I fully appreciate the need for most black and white shots to have a FULL range of tones from un blown whites through all the grey’s down to the solid black....
The very recent post of ... Boats for Hire.... in the Gallery just now.... is my kind of shot....but I’m sure he would make me doubt my judgement.

I am guessing this might be one of those never ending debates.... but, here it is..... for the benefit of all of us who shoot In Black and White.

SlowSong Plus
12 9.4k 30 England
23 Nov 2020 9:32AM
Like yourself, MileJanjic - an EPZ contributor (amongst others) - also favours high contrast b/w images. It's a style. Some like it, some don't, but in my opinion it's neither right nor wrong. Just preference. If you like it, that's a valid enough reason to carry on as you are. Smile.

23 Nov 2020 10:32AM
I have to admit that very high contrast B&W is not to my taste, but I can see what others appreciate them. It is all down to just that - taste (or lack of it, in my case Wink ). If everyone liked the same things, life would be very boring, and we'd rarely or never see new and interesting ideas in photography - or any other sphere of life either.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2343 United Kingdom
23 Nov 2020 11:17AM
Don McCullin has argued that b&w photography is the most honest, because it does not pretend to be reality. It announces itself for what it is - an image. So it allows the photographer greater freedom to create the image that was actually in his / her mind's eye. And for me that generally means the contrast of real black and real white. They are the structure. The greys in between are important for filling out the picture, but they are secondary. But that's just how I see the world, others see it differently.
23 Nov 2020 11:29AM
Once again it is in the eye of the beholder.
If you have to cater for a customer, it is their vision you have to reproduce., not your own.
If it is for Art then only your own interpretation is of any import, whether others agree is up to them.
Personally, I enjoy any interpretation, it depends on the image.
This from someone who ONLY saw, and took, monochrome images growing up Grin
dark_lord Plus
16 2.7k 735 England
23 Nov 2020 12:13PM
I prefer contrasty mono myself, on the whole. That's not to say I don't like softer black and white images. Subject plays a part too.
That said I'm sometimes torn between two or three representations when doing mono conversions.
What I'm not keen on are mushy muddy looking mono images - where a small tweak to Levels or Curves for example would make all the difference.
It's important to remember though that the image in mono has to work (engage the viewer in whatever way). It has to be as strong or stronger than the colour original.
DaveRyder Plus
6 4.9k 7 United Kingdom
23 Nov 2020 1:00PM
I've taken guidance from the critique team on many aspects inc B&W work.
This has been invaluable input but I'm sure the team would agree it's mentoring rather than teaching.

Take guidance and listen to critique to further develop what you create.
Whatever works for you.
As an example - It's a bit like cubist art, I really can't see why some Picaso's see the light of day other spend millions on them. Give me a Constable any day.
pablophotographer 9 1.8k 394
23 Nov 2020 1:47PM
There is charm and there is detail... If detail is lost or black creates a smudge then charm and detail is lost so it is a no for me.

The boats picture is too dark for my liking. That being said I favoured Kodak BW400CN to Agfa APX100 film but each has its merit. I photographed a wedding reception with Fujifilm Neopan400 exactly because I wanted to reduce contrast between the two people who got married, as one was white and the other one was black. It did work well and I know that with a film producing further contrast and darker blacks it wouldn't looked nice.

Different subjects/lighting conditions require or dictate different contrast or treatment to my opinion.
altitude50 16 21.2k United Kingdom
23 Nov 2020 3:25PM
I like contrasty black & white images, I also like subtelty. Depends on the subject and the intention of the photographer. If there was a dark shadow then it can stay dark. I do not understand the general instruction 'it needs detail in the shadows'.
This photograph was criticised several times for being too dark.I don't think it needs detail of the floor. Taken with 120 film & home printed about 1986.
clicknimagine Plus
11 746 104 India
23 Nov 2020 4:24PM
Do you think the image you referred above is in Black and White...NO...it is a Monochrome image, it has Pure Black and Pure White and many other tones in between...

I personally like his processing as his own style of doing it, in my experience i think it is much more difficult to develop a personal style than to copy another one's...

How many of you think that the merit of an image depends solely on the fact that the image is in Mono or in Colour or in High contrast...
pablophotographer 9 1.8k 394
23 Nov 2020 4:53PM

Fujifilm Neopan 400CN

Kodak BW400CN

I think altitude50's picture is black and white to be honest... I would give the same merit to any picture regardless its colour. But I would give particular consideration if the photographer has chosen the right colour palette to depict the subject well...

altitude50 16 21.2k United Kingdom
23 Nov 2020 5:07PM

Quote:Do you think the image you referred above is in Black and White...NO...it is a Monochrome image, it has Pure Black and Pure White and many other tones in between...

The word 'Monochrome' means one colour. Can be Red, blue or green etc. (Or black & white according to my dictionary.) My rolls of Ilford HP5 state Black & white film' on the box. That's alright with me.
JackAllTog Plus
11 6.2k 58 United Kingdom
23 Nov 2020 11:05PM
So black & white is not a black & white subject at all Wink

Personally i often like a lightly monotone coloured b&W shot.
lemmy 13 2.9k United Kingdom
25 Nov 2020 12:08PM

Quote:As an example - It's a bit like cubist art, I really can't see why some Picaso's see the light of day other spend millions on them. Give me a Constable any day.
They are in no way inimical to one another. Constable is in an older tradition that paints what is there or an idealised version of it. Picasso paints what it felt like to be there, the impression of it. One of the greatest pictures ever and the one I would like to own is Picasso's Guernica. Anyone who has been on the end of bombs and gunfire will know the feeling of terror it invokes. For most without that experience it gives an insight into it. Constable and Picasso are just different, that all. Like Chuck berry and Bach. Different but perfectly easy to appreciate both for what they are.

Some subjects suit mono and some colour. The beauty of digital is that if you shoot RAW, any decisions as to what suits best can be made later and if you wish will be exactly the same as if you had shot mono at the time. And of course, you can always view in mono while shooting RAW.

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