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Author Topic: So, what makes a great black & white photograph?  (Read 20386 times)
eleanorbrown
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« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2009, 01:01:54 PM »
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I agree with you Chuck but will add "good technique" to the mix as is evidenced on your web site.  I have visited our site often and your black and white images, with their flawless technique, have been an inspiration to me. Eleanor



[quote name='ckimmerle' date='Aug 24 2009, 04:24 PM' post='305742']


As b/w images don't suffer the distraction of color, they have to communicate using primarily form, texture, tonality and subject, any of which, either alone or in combination, can be the visual driving force of the image.
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tom b
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« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2009, 11:56:44 PM »
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Appropriate size is important.

A number of years ago I saw an retrospective exhibition of an Australian street photographers images. The photographs were printed too large and became soft and distracting. He didn't sell one photograph from the exhibition. Some time later I saw the book made from the exhibition and although the images were smaller and offset printed they had much more impact.

I had seen Man Ray's images in books many times and I like his work. When they had an exhibition of his work at the Art Gallery of NSW I was disappointed. The prints were 5x4" contact prints presented in archival lighting. It was tiring to look at. The same could be said of the Paul Strand photogravures at the MCA recently. I definitelyhttp://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&...ely&spell=1 prefer the larger reproduction of both these photographers images in books that you can view in decent lighting.

I think that much of the popularity of Ansel Adam's work is that he did enlarge his work appropriately so that you could see the detail in his prints. I saw a selection of prints at Byron Mapp gallery (now closed) of prints made by Ansel's assistant. They were contact prints and although the prints were of high quality, they lacked the impact of an enlarged print. If I remember correctly in the next room was a collection of Peter Dombrovskis's 5x4" photographs printed approximately 36x29". They blew the Ansel Adams prints away. This time the enlarged prints from these two photographers are so much better than book reproductions.

As you can see I'm not a fan of contact prints and contact prints seen under archival lighting are the biggest disappointment. A good black and white print is one that is enlarged appropriately to show the detail that is the slide/neg/capture…
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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2009, 05:55:34 AM »
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One thing that monochrome does is to leave more to the observer's imagination ... particularly for nudes.
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« Reply #23 on: September 27, 2009, 05:31:46 AM »
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B&W is monochrome, so really, all you have to work with is form.

I think generally, a great B/W photography should capture something that expresses something - whether it be the sublimity of mist descending the slope of a mountain or the candid smile on a child's face. Thousands of people shoot pretty pictures. Look on Flickr and there's plenty. Aesthetically pleasing images are a dime a dozen. If you knew how to control exposure from capture to print, setting up a camera and snapping a landscape isn't that difficult - the difficulty is making it give a statement.

This is for me at least. Which is probably why I am so in love with photojournalism and works by people and agencies like Magnum. People who are dedicated to present to you their vision of the world.
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