A case for Black and White Nature Photography
Photography started in black and white, and as nature was an obvious theme choice there is a long tradition of making black and white nature photos.
Strangely enough nature photography is also dominated by crisp clear in focus photos. Even today this can be seen in the colour photos by nature photographers.
With black and white nature photography many American landscape photographers have set the “tone”.
Ansel Adams was one of those b&w landscape photographers. And influenced a whole genre of photography with his photos of wild nature in the United States.
And although Ansel Adams became famous for his wide panorama in black and white he shot a lot of colour photography too!
But one of the reasons why I find black and white photography so compelling is probably because it immediately transports you to another world. As we do not perceive the world in black and white. A colour photograph can easily lure you into the trap to think that what you see is real.
But a photo is never real, as was it alone because it stops time.
A photo is flat and a rectangle or square. And the real world is not like that. At best a photo represents an idea of the world.
So why not directly step into an alternate reality of the photo? Black and white – Bam, you see something else than reality. You are taken to a different place.
Black and white can rapidly go beyond the representation of the image and give you the idea or concept of the image. And I think this idea is often the most interesting thing about the photo. Not the representation of reality but the reference to it.
I like black-and-white nature photography as it gives you a bit more space to use your own imagination of who it would be in reality. Perhaps a bit like the difference between a book and a film. With a book, you come up with your own imagery, with a film you are directed into a certain place.
B&W photos also give you a more clear view towards the abstract component of the image. A black and white photo is easier to get into as an art form and perhaps that’s the reason why colour photography was seen as a lesser art form for a while.
But in the end the art is in the things you don’t see but feel.