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originality, authenticity, oddness, queerness, strangeness, eccentricity

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Founded 4 Years ago
Dec 30, 2012


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Color or black and white

Journal Entry: Fri Apr 14, 2017, 6:36 AM

Risultati immagini per saul leiter

I ignite the question: "Which is better for Street Photography, Color or B&W?"

When we think about street photography *, we usually think about classic black and white photos by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau and others. Yes, street photography was born in black and white, on film developed in the darkroom. Indeed if we search for “street photography” using Google Image Search, we will find mostly black and white images. I guess there is a prejudice against color street photography. Some kind of a nostalgic feeling. I think street photographers are biased and choose too quickly black and white. But there are many great street photographers who have enjoyed color, nonetheless, such as Ernst Haas, Helen Levitt, Saul Leiter, William Eggleston, Joel Sternfeld, Fred Herzog, Martin Parr, Joel Meyerowitz, Matt Stuart...

Robert Doisneau

Ernst Hass N.Y.

I believe that these two quotations can satisfy lovers of both categories:

“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!” Ted Grant

“One very important difference between color and monochromatic photography is this: in black and white you suggest; in color you state. Much can be implied by suggestion, but statement demands certainty… absolute certainty.” – Paul Outerbridge

Anyway, color street is more difficult than b/w street (you have to control more) and I think that is why we see more b/w street than color.

1)- b/w is essential: cutting out the informations of colors

2)- b/w enhances frames based on lines, geometry, combination of shapes and masses, visual symbolism.

3)- b/w puts more emphasis on the subject

4)- b/w can give a timeless feeling to the images, cutting them out from a specific time

5)- b/w can add gravity and drama to an image.


Colors catch the attention.

1)- Colors can lead the eye through a frame

2)- Colors can highlight elements in a frame

3)- Colors can isolate them.

4)- Colors convey atmosphere and emotion.

5)- Colors can add complexity and layers to an image.

Sometimes a photo without its colors loses its visual meaning and impact. Leiter, for example, uses color as a painter, look for the detail, playing with shadows, discovers what is not seen.

In my opinion, color photos run the risk of making the reality more plastic, today. But it depends on how you're using the colors, of course, we are all too affected by the bombardment of advertising. And anyway there is a difference between analog and digital color ... shots of Saul Leiter and Helen Levitt are completely different from the most recent photographs, and not only because of the subjects (people from another Time).

I believe that when you are shooting you already know whether the image will be in color or black and white. I make my choice almost always right when shooting. I love the color, but often it's not significant and I see only in black and white, while sometimes the color gets crucial. It depends on what you are shooting and what you want to tell.

Black and white emphasizes the girl's face but flattens the reflections.

In full colour it's an overall view, where you read more than one level.

And that's what I wanted to take, otherwise, I would have focused on the girl.

And you? What do you think about black and white vs color for street photography?

When do you believe it is better to use either? Do you think that black and white is inherently better than color?


cover by Saul Leiter

* “A new era in color photography began with the introduction of Kodachrome film, available for 16 mm home movies in 1935 and 35 mm slides in 1936. It captured the red, green and blue color components in three layers of emulsion. A complex processing operation produced complementary cyan, magenta and yellow dye images in those layers, resulting in a subtractive color image. Maxwell's method of taking three separate filtered black-and-white photographs continued to serve special purposes into the 1950s and beyond, and Polachrome, an "instant" slide film that used the Autochrome's additive principle, was available until 2003, but the few color print and slide films still being made in 2015 all use the multilayer emulsion approach pioneered by Kodachrome.” Wikipedia

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kitamba Featured By Owner 2 days ago
many thanks
jennystokes Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2017  Professional General Artist
Thanks Bats :rose:
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