Black And White Or Color? It’s All A Matter Of Preference
"The mystery isn't in the technique, it's in each of
How much does color add to--or take away from--a photograph? Rarely do you get a chance to see a body of work that's identical in color and monochrome but Jorge Tutor (www.jorgetutor.com) presents an opportunity to make such a comparison. His other website (www.kirikou.com) contains many of the same images, except in color. With a few exceptions all the photographs on his monochrome site were captured in color but "the colors were removed with Photoshop." I like the drama, mystery, and simplicity of his monochrome musings and you can make your own decisions about which version is best.
Rob Gardiner is an immensely talented Australian photographer who has two websites. His main site (www.nyclondon.com) contains powerful monochrome images as well as manipulated SX70 color, but his blog (www.nyclondon.com/blog) contains an interesting self-assignment. He's walking from St James's Park to High Street Kensington in London searching for "a mix of psychogeography, photography, history, and self-education." Traveling above London Underground's Circle Line, Gardiner is staying within a couple of hundred yards from the line. His tools for this assignment match the Victorian engineering of the Underground itself.
The walk is being captured with a pinhole camera with no lens, viewfinder, light meter, shutter, or electronics of any kind. The blog features a map of the subway route along with a surface map showing where each of the photographs was made. Unlike the directness of the photographs found on his main site, his blog photographs reflect peace, tranquility, and elegance, revealing the power of monochrome to tell a story without the unnecessary distractions of color.
Mark Surloff is another photographer with two websites. His black and white site (http://home.earthlink.net/~baxsur/index.html) contains personal work, while his commercial site (www.surloff.com) is full of dazzling color architectural images. Not surprisingly, his monochrome images feature images of buildings, but they couldn't be more different from his day job and it's not just their lack of color. Images such as "Beach Wedding Scene 2" have an insouciant symmetry, not to mention style and grace, while "Boys and Church" have a delightfully haphazard quality. Similarly, his formal "Woman and Fence" is counterbalanced by the humorously Erwittesque "Mona." All of Surloff's photographs are infused with the kind of dynamics that monochrome image making permits by placing the focus on the subject matter, simplifying and making you stop, look, and think. It's not just another "pretty picture" without color. Surloff's world is both realistic and surreal at the same time and that, my friend, is the real power of black and white.
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