The Power of Black and White

My friend and amazing Architectural photographer in Memphis, Gary Kessel, recently became fascinated by the powerful Architectural  images possible when you eliminate color. Without color, the form and textures become dominant, but the best images have subjects that are already works of art created by a great Architect.  I think finding the power of Black and White in everyday objects  presents a bigger challenge.  Here I present a door.  In black and white the craftsmanship of the artisan that formed it – maybe 100 years ago, dominates the image along with the effect of age on the wood.  But the reality is, an old film B&W image as well as a modern digital B&W image are both created by how the original colors effect the film/sensor.  When I shot Pan X B&W film in my Nikon F2 (as a young man), I often used a Red filter on my lens to darken the sky and make clouds “pop.”  Today using Photoshop, when you adjust an image to B&W you are presented with a window containing broad digital adjustments for multiple color “filters.” By enhancing or minimizing the reflective power of a range of color, the B&W image can look very different.  So here are two versions, processed through two different sets of digital color filters. Some of the distressed areas had a blue cast, so by changing the blue filter it produced a significant change in the image. The picture changes back and forth every two seconds to show the effect. Click the small play button.

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