Sunday, August 2, 2009

Black and White Photography Plus Photographers Worth Mentioning.

What can be said about black and white photographs and black and white photography that hasn’t already been said? Well quite a bit actually. The advancements in the photographic medium over the years have allowed for new ways to convert images into black and white photographs. With the new ability to convert images to black and white, big strides have been made in the printing aspects of digital photography. This is something that I am not going to go into to much depth about. My focus with this article is to discuss photographers that work in solely black and white. But just let me say, the latest printers that are being sold now allow for smoother tonality, better gradation, and produce a finer detail in the final prints. Paper manufactures have also developed specific papers just for black and white printing. If you are not yet currently printing your own images, this is something to keep in mind when deciding to move forward with your photography and buy a printer. Shooting black and white is still a great deal of fun.

Sitting next to me is a half dozen publications, (photography magazines) that each contain something discussing black and white photographs. Each magazine also contains a good number of black and white images. One of the publications, Digital Photo Pro even has a Black and white special. This article that I found on the site is not part of issue in print that I have, but it is able to defend my thoughts on black and white photography still being a huge aspect in photography. What was in the issue that I have thumbed through numerous times is an article about Michael Creagh The article discusses his use of black and white in his fashion photographs. I found it to be a very inspiring piece that talks about his dedication to working some projects solely in black and white. He developed a style and a reputation for his black and white photographs. It is hard to work in a market and industry these days and focus on just black and white. One look at his website will show you that he does use color in his images. I find that being able to work in both areas makes you a more rounded photographer.

Having been classically educated in black and white and color photography, I feel that I have more of rounded education than a student currently enrolled in a program that focuses specifically digital photography. I find myself doing about a 50/50 spilt when it comes to color and black and white photography. My interests with black and white do out weight color sometimes. This is the reason behind searching all my magazines to find the best possible articles that discuss black and white photography. When it comes to making black and white photographs, you have to think and see images in black and white. There is more of a thought process when it comes to making photographs black and white. Black and white offers a timeless quality to images that color otherwise can not.

Below are two images that show the contrast of color vs. black and white. On the left is the color image. Not a very appealing image because of the color of the available light. Converted to black and white this images takes on a quality that the color image doesn’t portray. When me and a fellow photographer were standing in this location, we were discussing how we much rather be using 50 speed  black and white film. Why 50 speed? Well, 50 speed would give us almost zero grain and allow us to make large prints. 40”x60” is around the size we were thinking.

DSC_0113  CSC_0114

Now on to some amazing photographers. This is just a small list of photographers who’s use of black and white images have helped make a name for them.  These photographers may not be familiar to you, but it is worth it to know who they are.

Rodney Smith is well educated and amazingly talented photographer. Portfolio His masterful images offer a somewhat surreal quality to the viewer.

Elliott Erwitt is another Master of black and white photography.


Garry Winogrand was a street photographer known for his portrayal of America. “Winogrand was known for his portrayal of American life in the early 1960s, Many of his photographs depict the social issues of his time day and in the role of media in shaping attitudes. He roamed the streets of New York with his 35mm Leica camera rapidly taking photographs using a prefocused wide angle lens. His pictures frequently appeared as if they were driven by the energy of the events he was witnessing. While the style has been much imitated, Winogrand's eye, his visual style, and his wit, are unique.”

Sally Mann is a very controversially talked about photographer.

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