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Steve Sims Photography | Family Lifestyle + Portraits + Landscapes | Christchurch, New Zealand

stevesimsphotography@gmail.com

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It is as plain as black & white

We have all seen black and white images. They are ever popular today as they were 30 or 50 years ago. In fact, the first black and white was taken in 1824-1828 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce . It was the worlds first photograph for that matter!

Colour photography was sought after in the very beginning and results were first presented in 1848 by Edmond Becquerel. Exposures would last hours or even days and were very light sensitive so they would only bear very brief inspection in dim light. The first durable colour was taken by using black and white through in 3 separate colour filters - Red. Blue. Green. There were then super imposed by three projectors using similar filters. Black and white uses these colours for different tones in the image.


What is the difference between black & white, greyscale and monochrome? You may have heard different words showing the same outcome regarding black and white photography. There is Black and White. Greyscale & Monochrome. So techincally, all black & white and greyscale images are monochrome images. But not all monochrome images are the opposite. They are slightly different but only minor. So black and white is just as it says. Black & White. Greyscale is the scale of grey tones in the image. Monochrome is the use of one colour shades whether it is yellow, green or even black so not all monochrome is black & white or greyscale. Greyscale is the more defined definition of what you see as black & white nowadays. So yes, they are all the same if in black & white or greyscale but monochrome is not always matching.


Why do I love it? I always had a drawing to black & white photography (though mine is greyscale) but not as much as I have recently. There has been a sudden urge within me to delve deeper into this whether it is portraits or landscapes. Greyscale has my heart currently. I feel there is more emotion and a better, stronger story to be told through black and white. It isn't all about being dark and sad. You can show happiness and joy still without colour. I love the high contrast, sharp images rather than the low contrast and almost dreamy look. Some certain images will work with low contrast. Below is an image I took and added high contrast and sharpened for the look I enjoy seeing.


This works really well in street photography. This was taken during mid-morning just as light was getting brighter. The reflection is actually my mobile phone glass sitting below the end of my lens to give off that reflection.

Some of my favourite is the minimalist black & white. Below is an example.


By Hossein Zare

This is what I love. Powerful imagery using just two colours. Simplistic! Perfect.

These type of images are so simple yet leave you asking so many questions which draws you into the image. Opens your mind. Is it a sunny day? Is this on a hill? Is it a lonely place? Is it part of a horror? So many questions to intrigue the mind and get you thinking.

Some famous photographers who used greyscale/black & white who have been some inspiration of late are Henri-Cartier Bresson, Diane Arbus and of course, Ansel Adams. Ansel Adams was known for his black & white western America images of the rocky mountain scenes. Diane Arbus was more into portraits of people that the public would call 'ugly'. She brings out raw emotion and uses the lighting very much to her advantage for this. Henri-Cartier Bresson created excellent candid street shots. All caught in the moment.


Going black & white makes me feel I am connecting back to the roots of photography. Going back to where it all started. It has given me a new sense of inspiration and a new direction to head into. Next step will be to head into doing film photography...

Below are some more images from my new venture into Greyscale Photography.





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