Black and White versus Color, The Never-Ending Question

When I first got interested in photography almost three decades ago I took a course in photography. Back then the photography world was a different place. There was no photoshop. There were no digital cameras and memory cards. I learned in a black and white world, a world with film and hand held light meters. Not to say color film wasn’t around then, it surely was but I learned about photography using the most basic of formats, black and white film, and have a longtime fascination with black and white images and the mood it can create ever since.

For any outdoor and especially landscape photographers the name Ansel Adams should have a lot of meaning. Longtime regarded as the father of landscape photography, Ansel Adams showed the world how black and white images can speak volumes and can create a mood not possible with colored images. He was the master at landscape photography and also the master at black and white images.


Even though my fascination started with Ansel Adams with black and white landscape images the same philosophy can transcend to other types of photographs, offering a bit different mood or setting. I photographed this snowy egret on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge this past fall and tried it in both color and black and white. Usually I prefer bird photographs in color, allowing all vibrant hues and color tones to radiate through but for some reason I am really drawn to the black and white version of this image. I suppose the lack of color takes away the boring background a bit and put the focus back on the main subject, the snowy egret. Well, whatever the reason I think black and white images have a place in all forms of photography and we owe the father of black and white photography, Ansel Adams, a great deal of gratitude from showing us just how much one can get out of a photo with just a black and white format.


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