Why black and white?

Wasn’t that was over years ago, even before digital?

Like many photographers, I have stayed with black and white because I never developed an interest in color as a means of expression; or, “art” if you will.  Simply put: monochrome remains my medium of choice.  As for film, I have chosen to remain with a medium in which I have developed a good deal of experience and skill over many years.  In this digital age, I’ve actually achieved some acclaim as a black and white film practitioner.  There have been exhibitions, lecture presentations, and even television.  I’ve had my 15 minutes.

I’ve used a lot of color film.  All of the weddings and most of my commercial work way back when was on color negative film.  My dad was a color slide shooter, and I did the same for personal photos – mostly vacation “snapshot” type pictures – for years until I finally did switch over to color negative film when that medium matured a little more and, well, the color got better.  I bought a “color” enlarger before variable contrast printing was common, and I still have all the tools to do color developing and printing.  (Tools, yes – materials, sadly, not so much …)

Why film?

Digital is pretty, but we old film guys know how to do something that was always a bit esoteric, and now was becoming even more so at an alarming (to us) rate.  We are the high priests of so-called “traditional” photography.  We are also dinosaurs, just not yet extinct.

I am hardly anti-digital. It is true that for much of digital’s early years, I did not take to it, as I viewed it as inferior to film in image quality.  I got over it.  “Image quality” is one of those terms that sound objective, but despite a lot of physical measurements is still fraught with subjectivity as to just what those numbers mean.

I bought my first digital camera years ago to take those color snapshots in place of the film.  I currently use two digital cameras, a micro 4/3 and a full frame dslr.  There is Photoshop on the computer, two scanners and large color printer in the house.

Photographers have been debating digital vs. film since the advent of digital.  This argument really has less and less merit as digital technology improves.  For most of us, the boat has sailed.  However, I recently read one photographer saying that (in his opinion) black and white was perfect in film, but color is only now becoming mature with digital capture.  He may be right.  I can’t say that I disagree.

The bottom line, though, is that film or digital, color or monochrome, are simply personal, subjective decisions.  It is no different than painters choosing oils over watercolors or acrylics.  It is simply a choice of media.

So, a blog and other activities to explore, celebrate, and promote the medium of black and white film.  I hope you’ll ride along.


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