The Allure of Black and White

Colour photography has been around for a long time, so why do so many photographers continue to shoot in black and white? Alexander Otto examines the case and explains why

For over 100 years photographers have had the option to choose colour images over black and white and yet, many still chose deliberately to take photos devoid of hue. Not long after the inception of the photographic medium, scientists and enthusiasts like Gabriel Lippmann or the Lumiere brothers, to name only a few, developed different imaging modalities to implement the option of colour. At first, colour films were only used in advertisements and fashion photography but have found their way into commercial journalism and art photography in the last 40 or so years.

In landscape photography many professionals shunned colour, amongst them titans like Ansel Adams and Michael Kenna, and there is good reason for this preference, especially in landscape photography. The argument that most photographers come to understand almost automatically is the clear focus on shape and texture, which is certainly a prolific and important one.

Reducing imagery into its essentials, breaking it down to texture and shape, can help the viewer’s ability to follow the abstract line work more easily and reduce visual anchors onto contrast areas, which can render the image more accessible to the eye. In this instance, a picture of the famous ...

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About Author

Nicolas Alexander Otto

Nicolas Alexander Otto is a young landscape photographer based in Germany. Starting out back in 2008, what once was a sporadic past time has slowly become a semi-professional part time job.

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