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In this way a black and white picture is more a myth than a fact; a quality to which we humans are perennially drawn.Colour photography (without post-enhancement) is necessary for photojournalism as colours are part of truth telling but ‘beautiful’ colour is often, as mentioned above, appreciated as a deviation from ‘the natural’.
And then in 1941 they introduced a way of making prints from the transparencies so now photographers had a way of reproducing and disseminating visions of the world in something like a natural colour spectrum.
But what was added in the way of colour was deemed by many to ‘take something away’ from the power of a monochrome photographic image.
I don’t want to teach you to suck eggs but it might be beneficial to this topic if we remind ourselves of the history that has led us out of the dark age of non-photography to where we are now; an age that may be described, by the sociologists of many millennia hence, as the beginning of the ‘Photograscene’ era – the era which will not exist without photography.
All early emulsions were only able to record one of the primary colours.
Nature is colour; man’s imagination can encompass black and white only through the complex combination of the neural system and psychology peculiar to human beings.
Only we humans choose to reduce the values of nature to shades of grey to better represent the externalised manifestation of our innermost vision.There is also an effect of simplification that is afforded by monochrome images that lends them better to the job of telling a story in one shot.A photograph’s essential elements can be manifested or hidden making the monochrome image a much more graphic pictorial representation of the world.I’ve taken a picture out of the train window and I’m looking at it in colour and black and white in an attempt to understand the value of each. The colour version is informative in a literal sense.And, once I’ve removed myself from the scene, and I take a look at this picture in a few weeks when the weather turns bad, perhaps I’ll derive a pleasure from the combination of colour and tone as well as the bucolic scene it represents. What is the continued relevance of black and white photography in a colour filled world?Or, in other words, what is the argument for monochrome representations of a polychromatic world.Known as Kinemacolor or Prizma Color this process gained popularity in the UK and US and several colour movies were made this way in the early years of the 20th century.Unfortunately it was very expensive and there was some industrial squabbling between the inventors of the respective processes which critically slowed the early advance of colour film making.This paradox pertains today and perhaps nowhere more than in the pages of this highly regarded publication, dedicated as it is to monochrome photography.What is it that still draws people to a representation of the world without colour?