Why Black & White Photography?

Some readers might wonder why I persist with traditional black & white photography, when modern digital imaging is easier and doesn’t involve all that messing about with chemistry.

Detailed view of an old plow. Exposed on Ilford HP5 with a Nikon F3 fitted with a Nikkor f1.8 105mm lens. Lens set at f1.8 for minimum depth of field.
My old Nikons were paid for many years ago. The cost of a roll of HP5 is about $6, and the processing costs are pennies per frame. True, my labor costs are much greater per image, but I feel the results justify the effort. (An yes, I also made a digital photograph of this scene).

The reasons are simple:

I like tradition. I’ve always made black & white photos and processed my own film. While there have been gaps in my black & white work (usually owing to a lack of adequate facilities), I like the continuity by occasionally working with a consistent medium.

My black & white efforts can achieve desired results that may not be equivalent to images made digitally.

Because traditional black & white photography is more difficult, I feel it hones my image making skills.

I process my negatives in an archival fashion and I scan them digitally. This leaves me with greater chances that the images will survive for generations than images strictly stored on ephemeral digital media.

Some years ago, someone asked me if I had adjusted to the switch to digital photography. I said, “I still haven’t adjusted to the switch to color!”

However, just because I continue with the time-honored tradition of black & white photography, doesn’t prevent me from also working digitally.

As regular viewers know, I routinely expose, present (and occasionally publish) modern digital images. In fact I find that two types of photography complement each other nicely.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

One thought on “Why Black & White Photography?”

  1. I feel that b+w can achieve effects that colour doesn’t achieve, as witness the image at the head of today’s post. Also when a day is largely black and white, as is of the case in the European Winter, black and white can capture the mood (gloom and mystery) rather well, as witness 1950s horror pictures.

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