Old school … or cutting edge?
SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s not all that often that I find inspiration in Wal-Mart, but a few days ago, I browsed through an issue of Peterson’s PHOTO graphic Digital Photography Guide magazine that focused exclusively on black and white digital photography. I’ve played around a few times with converting digital files into black and white images, but leafing through the pages took me way back, to my photography roots, when everything I did was in black and white.
For one thing, the film, chemicals and paper for working with black and white were much cheaper. Secondly, the photo lab on the U.S. Army base in Germany where I learned to develop and process didn’t even have color equipment when I first started. And finally, the photographers and printers who ran the lab (it was a free recreational amenity for troops) were old school, and insisted that learning good black and white techniques was the basis for good photography.
I don’t know if they were right, but I do know that, once I switched to color, it was hard to go back. It’s the colors of nature that captivate me and catch my eye. I’d say that once in every 5,000 snaps of the shutter, I see an image that calls out for a black and white treatment. But reading the first few articles made me think. The author claimed that digital technology gives you a greater ability to render an image without hues, simply because every digital file contains so much information that can be altered in processing. Along with adjusting the contrast and highlights, you can also play with the hues to achieve different levels of black and white intensity.