the dan milner photography blog: tales of an adventuring photo chimp

January 19, 2010

Black and White is the new colour.

Filed under: photography, snow — Tags: , — danmilner @ 5:03 pm

Hmmm, Black and White. There was a time when that meant commitment… to changing film, to making sure you scribbled in indelible pen on the cannister if you pushed the films speed and if so, by how much, to spending hours in the basement darkroom printing the results just how you want them. Not anymore though eh.

My latest cover has landed, and it’s on the UK’s Document Snowboard magazine, and it’s B&W I’m glad to say. Glad, I mean because it IS black and white: the editors didn’t ask for the colour version of the digi RAW file, but instead saw the potential that B&W has always held in many images.

I’ve always been a lover of B&W work. Years ago (2001?), when Onboard snowboard mag wanted to run my portfolio, they wanted it to feature in their B&W issue, and for many years I spent hours squirreled away in my darkroom and making split-contrast prints (where you expose with light contrast filter to add detail to the highlights and then expose through heavy contrast filter to add depth to the blacks), split toning the finals (to add blue tone for deeper blacks for example) and just generally using up a lot of time I seemed to have back then. So B&W has played a pretty big part in my photography, and lack of social skill development.

As I’ve droned on in previous blog posts, shooting a B&W image really means choosing to shoot it in B&W right at the time you shoot it. Yep, its colour RGB data of course, and is rendered into B&W at the time of  ‘RAW data processing’, but it’s important to decide it’s going to be B&W right from the start. That decision affects composition and lighting and exposure. When I shot this cover of Animal rider Johno Verity at Super St Bernard area in Switzerland last winter, I could see the line he was going to ride. so I got myself in a spot that was going to throw the backdrop into shade and backlight the roostertail he was going to throw up. Great B&W potential. The result: clean lines and an element of power, and a shot I’m glad wasn’t buried under cover lines.

Once this would have meant swapping to some Kodak Tri-X film and maybe dropping an orange or red filter on the front of the lens, pushing it a stop maybe, developing it when you got home and then spending a morning getting that print just right. Easier now of course. Sometimes us B&W photographers even get time to go out and see what daylight looks like.

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