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Thread: Why not colour?

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA

    Why not colour?

    "Who wants to duplicate reality?" from Mr. Chinn

    Who is? The "color" of modern photography is no more based in reality than black and white is. If true colors that my eyes are seeing in the real world were the middle of the road, then black and white wouldn't be any farther into unreality on the left than what we call color photography would be on the right.

    Nothing new. That's why we loved Kodachrome 25, and then got a divorce and re-married Velvia, and ultimately woke up in Photo Shop at the "hue-saturation" slider!

    It is a powerful tool, and so is black and white, but for the sake of discussion, lets start at the middle of that road.

    "That being the case, why not everyone shoot colour just as we see things in colour?" If we shot stuff the way our eyes see them it would be boring. The "hue-saturation" slider revv's color up to cause interest, and so does "black and white"
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

  2. #12

    Join Date
    Mar 1998

    Why not colour?

    You open several cans of writhing worms with this question of yours!

    I'm with Jim completely on this. All photography is an abstraction of what we physically sense as reality. Color vision is also notoriously adaptable whereas film is not. Sharpness in a photograph isn't to duplicate reality, it is to create an illusion of reality.

    What is it about B&W? In many situations color (even in real life not just photoraphy) is a distraction. with B&W that distraction is removed. Also photographic "seeing" in color is much harder to learn than "seeing" in B&W.

  3. #13

    Join Date
    Mar 2001

    Why not colour?

    what in interesting thread, one that hits right at the core of my own work. the only difference between B&W and color photography, is that color photography contains color. a stupidly simple observation, i know, but it has profound implications-- it means that the only reason to use color film instead of B&W is if color itself is the subject of the photograph. otherwise, the photograph would be better in B&W (without color's distraction). in other words, yes, color does ground us in reality, and if the purpose of a photograph is to escape reality, then the only time to use color film is when the color itself is the thing that takes us beyind reality.

    i think very few photographers realy see in color; there are many B&W photographers out there using color film, photographing subjects that the great B&W photographers chose for their texture and form (things that show up better without color's distraction) and in that kind of work the color ends up being superfluous and actually distracts the viewer's attention. in this category i put all of the calendar-type photography-- the color in that kind of work means nothing, and i always wonder why the photographer used color film.

    so how can color be the subject of a photograph; how can color be the thing that takes you beyond reality? that's not an easy question to answer; i'm pretty much devoting my life to its pursuit. (if you're interested, check my work at


    ~chris jordan (Seattle)

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