Monochrome?

Since people started to mess about with image files on computers (when digital came along) it went all over the shop. By golly, it’s got a lot to answer for. That wonderful idea that enables us to make images which previously we could only dream about, has a lot to answer for.

Isn’t it funny that something so good can be so badly mishandled that it becomes something so bad, as well? In this case, I’m waffling on about black & white photographs.

For those of you who look at photographs of yesteryear, have you ever wondered why the black & white looks so arresting and why ‘mainstream’ black & white today looks so dull and grey?

All those wonderful monochrome photographs were made with black & white film. There are many different types of this film, all with unique characteristics. Colour film is entirely different in the way it presents tonality (ghastly word – shouldn’t have used it – sorry) and contrast. So, if all you do is to remove the colour from a digital file by moving the desaturate slider to minus 100% you will end up with a boring grey image. Even if one uses more sophisticated black & white conversion software and just ask it to ‘convert’ to black & white you will only end up with the ‘starting point’ … and that’s because of the camera’s universal starting point.

You see, black & white isn’t just colour with the colour taken away …

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