July 6, 2011

Black and white photography has puzzled me for a while now. It seemed appropriate for the prints made from black and white 35mm film that required such development simple due to the nature of the film. Developing those prints and seeing the final product convinced me that black and white photography should be saved for antiquated scenes that cannot be expressed in color. Since that time, I have browsed many galleries and noticed that this old style of imaging has become a cliche, where color images can be arbitrarily changed to black and white to indicate its sudden transition from new to old. This didn't seem well matched in many images, instead appearing almost as an anachronism; picture in your mind a stock photograph depicting a colorless print of a man on a cell phone walking down Wall Street. I feel that an image meant to be in black and white should naturally fit that characteristic, starting with a lack of modernism in subject, technique and style. This definition seemingly should allow many of the wilderness images the possibility of undergoing desaturation, yet in almost every instance it seems color suits them better.

The question for myself is whether I should consider black and white for nature photographs. So far, I have had no motivation to rid myself of the vibrant color available with modern technology. It may just be that the right image deserving of this regression has not been created yet. To show this point, here are two versions of the same image from today at La Jolla Shores. It is another example of an image that should retain its color.