The Power of Black & White
On one of my many blog reading sprees, I stumbled upon the wonderful Photography Office article on the work of Nate Parker, showing off some stunning black and white images of the New England Coast, this go me thinking about just how striking and raw a image can be, when all the colour has been removed
I love black and white images, you can take a pretty non desrcript image and if it is done correctly it makes it much more interesting and draws you in, for me this is especially evident in images that shoot with a certain amount of decay, such as the image above by Parker or this one by Rob Cartwright, which captures the contrast between the the crumbling victorian building, over shadowed by the imposing presence of a modern development.
This image perfectly shows the changing of the Manchester skyline, the darkness of the old contrasted by the light of the modern, aided by the lack of any colours, this is also shown in this image of Birmingham, which was taken by Flickr user RicsRailPics, which captures more contrast between the old and the new world, this time between the Hall of Heros and the new City of Birmingham Library
You could argue that the black and white, removes realism or stops you from seeing the amazing colour that the library is decorated in, but I feel that sometimes taking away the colour, makes you look harder at an image, you have to imagine what it’s like in real life or what it used to be like in it’s prime, if a black and white image is done well, it grabs you and makes you take notice, not always because the photographer wants you to see the contrast, sometime he/she wants the image to have a more vintage look, giving it a touch of history, this is something that is perfectly shown in this beautiful image of a former medieval fortress, near to Midlothian, captured so expertly by Scottish photographer Vic Sharp.
The image is very pretty and could of easily been published in full colour, but the soft tones of the clouds and light, would of been lost, instead they give an almost magical feeling to the picture, conjuring up thoughts of knights and dragons, the history of this ancient fortress, nestled high up in the Scottish countryside, drawing upon black and whites ability to make an image almost other worldly, sometimes even spooky, with figures and shadows, taking on strange new forms, as shown in these couple of images by Bryon V, another Scottish photographer, but on with a taste for the gothic, removing the colour of images to show off some of the incredible beauty of the Edinburgh old town.
Black and white imagery might be old and in the age of photo-manipulation, it is no longer the only way to introduce different elements into your image, but I find the crisp, contrast filled way that a black & white photograph shows the world, to be my favorite type of image and I find it amazing that the talented photographers of the world, are still finding ways of keeping this type of photography, cutting edge and not from getting dated, instead they use it to their strength, producing stunning and inspiring imagery.