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Author Topic: B/W more power as an art form than colour  (Read 32842 times)
Anon E. Mouse
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« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2006, 10:59:48 PM »
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Just one more point about the differences between B/W and Color: can you imagine Michael Kenna´s book, Japan in color!!
 Cheers Paul
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You are right. That book would be beautiful in color. The subtlies that color could bring would be amazing. Natually, the abstraction of black and white is great as well.
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Rob C
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« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2006, 06:03:03 AM »
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Two comments:  I am convinced that if Ansel Adams were alive today, he would be on computers like ...... lichen on a rock.  He might well have written a few books on Photoshop.

I see nothing wrong with treating computer manipulation of photography as a kind of game - there are many more pernicious ways to spend time.  Whether or not it done in "the spirit of photography" varies widely.  The golf analogy is misplaced - it's the journey after all.
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Hi Russell

Misplaced analogy? I don't think so; even golfers have been known to say that golf is a good walk (the journey) spoiled...

Does it matter? The useless war rumbles on; our health services are in terminal decline; new cars are ever more ugly than the ones they replace.

Ciao - Rob  C
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Rob C
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« Reply #22 on: October 15, 2006, 09:16:43 AM »
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You are right. That book would be beautiful in color. The subtlies that color could bring would be amazing. Natually, the abstraction of black and white is great as well.
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Anon E. Mouse

Oooh you devil's advocate, you!

Gotta be careful with humour here, my man, there's not a lot of it about and words tend to be taken awfully literally; you know, not doing irony and all that jazz...

Ciao -  Rob C
« Last Edit: October 15, 2006, 09:17:26 AM by Rob C » Logged

emma_g
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« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2006, 11:56:01 PM »
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Because I am a relative novice in the use of photography (film photography 1973 to 1978 and now digital photography, 2002to present) I enjoy participating much more in these discussions where my mind itself is “engaged.” creatively than in the totally technical debates about the latest version of hardware/software. Like a lot of the posters to this site I want to improve my own work. And also like others here, that journey towards improvement is at times confrontational to my own ingrained day-to-day biases and opinions.

“Image quality is not the product of a machine but of the person who directs the machine, and there are no limits to imagination and expression”.
This quote is also by Anselm Adams.

Both the camera & the computer fall into the category of machines, making Adams comment relevant to both.

It is my understanding that the CCD and CMOS chips used as sensors in digital cameras are monochromatic (Please correct me if I’m misinformed) and that this grayscale data that they capture about tonal values represented, then has to be converted into a form of RGB, either by the camera itself or through a computer later. In film, there is a necessity to make the choice of translation at an earlier stage than in digital, and there are certainly more options which need to be considered. One way of allowing myself to postpone a part of final choice was to load two bodies for my SLR with different films to assure myself of a choice of interpretation.
Computers have a certain image in the popular mind as being a “push the button” machine that controls the creation of the work. This image is not entirely undeserved. Software developers are under pressure from there sales base to make things easier to do and yet cover ever more complex circumstances at the same time. Think of all the complaints about how slow programs are. I always find myself asking Slow in relation to what? The idea of comparing a physical wet darkroom to a digital darkroom on anything more than a superficial level seems absurd to me. Software image editing packages for instance, are loaded with one button effects filters, which incidentally, many people do not take any real time to learn how to use, let alone understand. A real world darkroom equivalent would necessitate stocking every possible development-chemistry at optimal useable concentration & temperature, for every possible paper combination, and every possible physical effects-paraphernalia within a hands reach of the darkroom user, just in case its needed.
Much (but certainly not all) of the poorly executed digital art so abundant on the web is the result of a lack of knowledge of the specific program being used rather than an inherent fault in digital technology upon which the program is based. Great photographs can and have been created in both film and digital media. Before film great photos were created on glass plates coated with emulsion.

I have been using computers for my artwork, initially I admit out of forced (economic) necessity, for some time now. At the time, I resented this forced migration immensely. Now I find I often create personal work on the computer in preference to the traditional hard media I was schooled in, because I can achieve things impossible to do in paint, increasing the fluency & literacy of my personal visual language.  I still often begin my digital works with an initial pencil or ink sketch of some kind, if only to capture the moment of inspiration as it occurs. I do not differentiate between either of these tools strictly on the basis of origin, but rather on which allows me to arrive at my chosen destination in the most straightforward manner. To paraphrase Rob C, I will not rob myself of the best shot at getting it right. It is the conscious, thinking part of me that is my best assurance of protecting my ability to do this.
Sorry BernardL, I guess I've paraphrased you too!
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Rob C
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« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2006, 05:28:28 AM »
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Because I am a relative novice in the use of photography (film photography 1973 to 1978 and now digital photography, 2002to present) I enjoy participating much more in these discussions where my mind itself is “engaged.” creatively than in the totally technical debates about the latest version of hardware/software. Like a lot of the posters to this site I want to improve my own work. And also like others here, that journey towards improvement is at times confrontational to my own ingrained day-to-day biases and opinions.

“Image quality is not the product of a machine but of the person who directs the machine, and there are no limits to imagination and expression”.
This quote is also by Anselm Adams.

Both the camera & the computer fall into the category of machines, making Adams comment relevant to both.

It is my understanding that the CCD and CMOS chips used as sensors in digital cameras are monochromatic (Please correct me if I’m misinformed) and that this grayscale data that they capture about tonal values represented, then has to be converted into a form of RGB, either by the camera itself or through a computer later. In film, there is a necessity to make the choice of translation at an earlier stage than in digital, and there are certainly more options which need to be considered. One way of allowing myself to postpone a part of final choice was to load two bodies for my SLR with different films to assure myself of a choice of interpretation.
Computers have a certain image in the popular mind as being a “push the button” machine that controls the creation of the work. This image is not entirely undeserved. Software developers are under pressure from there sales base to make things easier to do and yet cover ever more complex circumstances at the same time. Think of all the complaints about how slow programs are. I always find myself asking Slow in relation to what? The idea of comparing a physical wet darkroom to a digital darkroom on anything more than a superficial level seems absurd to me. Software image editing packages for instance, are loaded with one button effects filters, which incidentally, many people do not take any real time to learn how to use, let alone understand. A real world darkroom equivalent would necessitate stocking every possible development-chemistry at optimal useable concentration & temperature, for every possible paper combination, and every possible physical effects-paraphernalia within a hands reach of the darkroom user, just in case its needed.
Much (but certainly not all) of the poorly executed digital art so abundant on the web is the result of a lack of knowledge of the specific program being used rather than an inherent fault in digital technology upon which the program is based. Great photographs can and have been created in both film and digital media. Before film great photos were created on glass plates coated with emulsion.

I have been using computers for my artwork, initially I admit out of forced (economic) necessity, for some time now. At the time, I resented this forced migration immensely. Now I find I often create personal work on the computer in preference to the traditional hard media I was schooled in, because I can achieve things impossible to do in paint, increasing the fluency & literacy of my personal visual language.  I still often begin my digital works with an initial pencil or ink sketch of some kind, if only to capture the moment of inspiration as it occurs. I do not differentiate between either of these tools strictly on the basis of origin, but rather on which allows me to arrive at my chosen destination in the most straightforward manner. To paraphrase Rob C, I will not rob myself of the best shot at getting it right. It is the conscious, thinking part of me that is my best assurance of protecting my ability to do this.
Sorry BernardL, I guess I've paraphrased you too!
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Emma

You might fine it interesting to look at www.petemyers.com for information on b/w digital capture etc. You'll find some articles listed down at the bottom of his home page and they all make good reading.

Ciao - Rob C
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asif
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« Reply #25 on: December 28, 2007, 04:24:47 AM »
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i think BW is useful in some cases specially when it comes to portraits - people - their faces - their eyes. in a BW photograph people can concentrate on the expressions, their eyes dont get caught by the flashy colors..
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #26 on: December 30, 2007, 09:18:55 AM »
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I see things a little differently. Back in the darkroom days, black & white photography provided many refined tools for artistic interpretation of the original negative. Color darkroom work by contrast was limited by the sheer complexity of the process together with issues like color crossover. The best you could generally do was try to get a reasonably faithful interpretation of the scene, within the limitations of the materials. Elliot Porter went to heroic lengths with the dye transfer process to get a reasonably accurate print. Pete Turner used wild color filtraton to produce bizarre effects, but this was seen as out on the lunatic fringe.

Kodachrome compelled a fairly specific kind of color vision; look through color photo books from the 1960's & 70's and you'll see what I mean. Slight underexposure to enrich colors, good red/yellow saturation and dramatic shadows. With the coming of Fuji Velvia, a very different color aesthetic virtually took over landscape and nature work. It seemed to me that within two years of Velvia's introduction, everything had vivid, hyper-real colors, shot in the kind of subdued or bright-overcast lighting made mandatory by Velvia's intense contrast. Master printers could produce a really good Cibachrome/Ilfochrome print, but only with intense effort using multiple contrast control masks. This kind of color aesthetic still dominates at least the nature photography world.

I believe that digital capture and printing have changed everything. Steven Johnson, one of the digital pioneers, argues for a reality-based aesthetic with accurate color rendition, rather than permitting the limitations and characteristics of materials (like Velvia) to control the interpretation. Nowadays photographers have unlimited options in the digital darkroom, and I see an expanding range of color interpretation as a result, much of it every bit as interpretive or abstract as black & white ever was. Andreas Gursky uses digital printing to create huge prints with pumped up neon colors and 'hyper-real' perfection. On the other hand photographers like Jeff Brouws or Peter Brown use a restrained, "reality based" color palette to show the beauty in the commonplace. The only restraint on color interpretation nowadays is your own vision.

Knock yourself out!
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Rob C
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« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2007, 11:15:59 AM »
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Geoff

I laughed at your mention of Kodachrome: the irony, for me, is that my ´back catalogue´ of transparencies shot for calendars is now providing me with pretty good originals for black and white prints (people). Skin, in particular, seems to work very well when scanned and turned into b/w.

I can´t add much about landscape, because it never grabbed me very much, but I do agree with you that Velvia swept the board when it came to travel etc. and I can understand why that was the case. Also, both Kodachrome and Velvia shared the bounty of travelling well, not suffering much through enforced delays between exposure and processing.

However, one must also remember that two other factors contributed to the virtual demise of Kodachrome as a pro medium: outwith the States, I know of no labs other than Kodak´s  which could process it; editors in stock libraries recommended Velvia as customer friendly - nice, bright, superstar colours to sell anything at all!

Rob C

EDIT: emma_g, I might well have been asleep, but where have you been?
« Last Edit: December 30, 2007, 11:24:27 AM by Rob C » Logged

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