Black and white photography combines the black and white spectrum, which then produces a range of shades of grey. The black and white photography eliminates any distraction of color. It helps the viewer to focus on other aspects of the photo. These aspects could be the subject of the photo, the patterns, shape, composition, and textures.
Let us take a look back at how black and white photography came to be.
History of black and white photography
Before the 1820s when the first camera photography was invented, people relied on traditional media for capturing images. The traditional media included sketches, paintings, and drawings.
Joseph Niepce became the first person to take a black and white photograph in 1826. He stored a black and white image on a pewter plate covered in petroleum using a camera. However, the process took 8 hours and extreme sunlight to record the image.
Joseph eventually died of a stroke, but he left his notes to a French photographer called M. Daguerre. The photography process became known in Europe when M. Daguerre and the French government agreed to announce the new process to the public.
The first pictures were taken in black and white because that was the only film they had to work with. 40 years later, colored photography was also discovered and developed, but black and white photography has never died.
Things you may not know about black and white photography
- Black and white photography is cheap. The black and white film is cheaper compared with the colored ones. You can always find it at reduced prices.
- To develop black and white film in a lab costs a little bit more than C-41 color. However, it’s easier to develop black and white film yourself at home.
- If you decide to develop your black and white film, you can keep the developing fluid and reclaim the silver leftover from the process. Although, you will have to do a lot of development to get noteworthy quantities of silver.
- You require the following equipment to develop your black and white film: changing bag, developing fluid, stop bath, bottle opening, scissors, developing tank, water, fixer, and reel.
- It doesn’t matter if it’s an overcast day when shooting a black and white picture, clouds are white and so is your film.
- To print black and white film is pretty easy.
- It is possible to use different color filters to change the tones of the photo.
- Since black and white film is cheaper to buy and develop, it is more inexpensive to try new methods and also experiment.
- Black and white film take great portraits.
Why we still love black and white photography
In the past, black and white photography was a necessity due to technology limitations. Now with our digital age, we still love creating without color. This form of photography will never die out.
I think people still love this art form because of its imaginative and creative nature. An image without color leaves a different set of ways that we can interpret what we see.
A colorless portrait can be so powerful. Whether you like it or not, photographers are artists and the images they create will have an impact on the person viewing them. The choices they make while taking and developing these images, whether actual or digital, can take a raw negative image of something or someone and turn it into an artistic piece. This might change someone’s life.
There are many examples of when a photographer will take their colored photos and change them to greyscale, but with all due respect to those that do that, there is a big difference between doing that and processing an image specifically for the black and white display.
Knowingly choosing to remove color, especially with portraits, seems to have a huge effect.
Photography is one of those ways where very strong connections can be made, and the use of black and white images can purposefully facilitate such connections.
Black and white photography is versatile. It is a format that suits any type of photography, from portraits, architecture, urban landscapes, and landscapes. It is also a medium that adapts well to all lighting situations.
There is no distraction for black and white images. You will find that colors can take away the focus from your subject. Taking the color out of the image lets the subject be independent.
Black and white images have the subtlety of tones. Using monochrome, there is a variety of what can be achieved in a photo.
There is variety in using black and white. The images can be high contrast, strong and powerful. They can also be soft, subtle, or gentle.
Advantages of black and white photography
- They do not fade with time
- They don’t reveal the actual age of the people in the photo
- Makes the photo look artistic
- The black and white photo effects hide skin tone imperfections
- Reminds us of the past days
- Makes everyone in the photo look uniform
- Photos will remain clear even with insufficient lighting.
Despite the advantages mentioned above, black and white photography also has its shortcomings.
Disadvantages of black and white photography
- Requires a skilled photographer to bring out the life and meaning in the photos
- It is easier to convert colored pictures to black, but near impossible to convert black and white into colored images
- There is a general belief that black and white images are outdated and they have no place in the digital society
With that being said, black and white photography is still valued and liked by so many people today. With the multiple effects that the modern camera has, we can alter or convert our colored images into black and white. This art form is still loved by many people and I have a feeling that black and white is still here to stay throughout the years to come.
In conclusion, black and white photography is a trend that will never fade away (pun intended).