Urban planning community | #theplannerlife

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Black and white photographs

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    on my 15 minute break
    Posts
    23,306

    Black and white photographs

    I get the impression black and white photography is widely misunderstood. I mean this on several levels. For starters, it seems a lot of photographers who want to come off as artsy think they can achieve this simply by the use of black and white film. B/w certainly focuses one's attention to light and shadow and by association texture, but all too often the subject matter itself scarcely calls for this type of impressionistic treatment.

    For me b/w photos increasingly cause a certain emotional pang that's probably deeply rooted in memory. Family photos were often black and white in my early childhood and seeing b/w pictures likely evokes something subconsciously when I see them - even when the subject has little or nothing to do with my own memories and experiences. It's difficult for me to put this in words but somehow I feel something approaching nostalgiac pangs when I see photos like the one mskis recently posted.



    I wasn't there when that picture was taken, but somehow I feel a lost connection - I realize that doesn't make sense on a logical plane, but I feel it all the same.

    Do any of these b/w images invoke an emotional response on any level for you?





    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  2. #2
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.
    Posts
    18,117
    Oddly enough, yes, but for different reasons. For me, it is as close to time travel to the past as I can get. Some say that a picture is worth 1,000 words, but I think it is much more than that. It can result in asking as many questions as it answers. If people were in the picture, why? What is their connection with the photographer, the place they are at, and what are they doing? Are their greater social components that are involved that are only partly represented?

    The collection of all the details are parts of a 4 dimensional picture for me. It is either a base for what was there or part of a progressive collection illustrating change in culture, structures, environment, and human nature. It further solidifies the fact that we are not stagnant and that with time comes change.

    As I pointed out, I was able to determine the picture of the Olympia was taking in November 1964 because of a collection of these clues, including the Beach Boy's schedule, the Red Wings schedule, the models and years of the cars, the the environmental conditions (there are no leaves on the trees in the background). My mom was living in Detroit at the time and was only 6 years old. My grandfather was already a chief with the fire department. Both of them have since passed, but this is a window into the Detroit that they knew. Who knows, my Grandfather could have been at the game that Thursday.
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  3. #3
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Middle of a Dusty Street
    Posts
    6,497
    I love black and white. I just commissioned some work to be done for my office.

    Click image for larger version

Name:	Philly Wall.jpg
Views:	3
Size:	24.0 KB
ID:	5558
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    C'mon and get me you twist of fate
    I'm standing right here Mr. Destiny
    If you want to talk well then I'll relate
    If you don't so what cause you don't scare me

  4. #4
    I think I know where you are coming from, Maister. Being an architectural historian and really into old houses, I have found that black & white photographs conjure up a lot of longing for a time when Toledo, Ohio (my hometown) had so much more than it does now. During the Great Depression, they took a picture of every single house in the County as part of some WPA project. They were used for tax assessment purposes. When I discovered these "Old Block Photos", which hadn't been used since the 1970s, it showed a much more lively city with original houses, before they would one day be unsullied by vinyl siding, bricked over storefronts, or bad remodel jobs. Almost every picture in many neighborhoods showed kids playing, old cars along the curb, brick streets, and open front porches, as well as tons of old storefront buildings with recessed entrances and viable, lively businesses. In other words...everyday life. I could hardly believe it was all Toledo. It may have been the Great Depression, but things sure where hopping!

    Even in the poor areas, where deterioration was evident, the sheer amount of original and long extinct architecture on houses long since demolished was something to behold. When I found a picture of my own house, decades before it was aluminum sided and the porch screened in, I had a hard time taking it all in. It just couldn't believe I was looking at the same house. All the pictures were so remarkable and so perfect that they seemed "staged". I just couldn't believe that my city once looked that way just a few decades before. But it was very much real and now, of course, completely extinct.

    Black and white photographs also tend to show a lot more contrast without all those distracting colors. If you are into architecture, it is the black and white photos that always seem to conjure up memories of a long forgotten past, even though in reality those times may not have been the greatest. Black and white photography also tended to use "Large Format" style cameras with huge negatives, which when blown up could bring out all sorts of detail. That was all lost when cheap camera's with standard 35mm film would come on the scene in the 1950s.

    Of course, 12+ megapixel SLR professional digital cameras can do a lot - at increasingly affordable prices - but what good are they really when everything around you has been altered beyond recognition or demolished. I believe, over the past 50 years, there has been an inverse relationship between the quality and versatility of a camera, and the value of what is still around that is worth filming.

    Below are some of examples of these Old Block Photos and what those buildings look like today.










    Last edited by Super Amputee Cat; 01 May 2016 at 5:49 PM.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.
    Posts
    18,117
    Quote Originally posted by Super Amputee Cat View post
    I think I know where you are coming from, Maister. Being an architectural historian and really into old houses, I have found that black & white photographs conjure up a lot of longing for a time when Toledo, Ohio (my hometown) had so much more than it does now. During the Great Depression, they took a picture of every single house in the County as part of some WPA project. They were used for tax assessment purposes. When I discovered these "Old Block Photos", which hadn't been used since the 1970s, it showed a much more lively city with original houses, before they would one day be unsullied by vinyl siding, bricked over storefronts, or bad remodel jobs. Almost every picture in many neighborhoods showed kids playing, old cars along the curb, brick streets, and open front porches, as well as tons of old storefront buildings with recessed entrances and viable, lively businesses. In other words...everyday life. I could hardly believe it was all Toledo. It may have been the Great Depression, but things sure where hopping!

    Even in the poor areas, where deterioration was evident, the sheer amount of original and long extinct architecture on houses long since demolished was something to behold. When I found a picture of my own house, decades before it was aluminum sided and the porch screened in, I had a hard time taking it all in. It just couldn't believe I was looking at the same house. All the pictures were so remarkable and so perfect that they seemed "staged". I just couldn't believe that my city once looked that way just a few decades before. But it was very much real and now, of course, completely extinct.

    Black and white photographs also tend to show a lot more contrast without all those distracting colors. If you are into architecture, it is the black and white photos that always seem to conjure up memories of a long forgotten past, even though in reality those times may not have been the greatest. Black and white photography also tended to use "Large Format" style cameras with huge negatives, which when blown up could bring out all sorts of detail. That was all lost when cheap camera's with standard 35mm film would come on the scene in the 1950s.

    Of course, 12+ megapixel SLR professional digital cameras can do a lot - at increasingly affordable prices - but what good are they really when everything around you has been altered beyond recognition or demolished. I believe, over the past 50 years, there has been an inverse relationship between the quality and versatility of a camera, and the value of what is still around that is worth filming.

    Below are some of examples of these Old Block Photos and what those buildings look like today.

    I know I have posted it before, but it is worth posting again, I LOVE the Then and Now photos, especially when there are both elements being the same and different in both photos.





    Off-topic:
    On the Cyburbia Dot Map, can you move me from GR MI to Raleigh?
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Missing up north from the low country
    Posts
    1,294
    Also, when printing in b&w, your photo should be extra good quality, in my opinion. The great black and white photogs really concentrate on the gray spectrum, not just black. and white. So yes, some nostalgic-feeling photos can be printed without color. But if your photo just shows black and white, you're really missing the point of this kind of photography.
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  7. #7
    Ansel Adams anyone? When it is done right, I like it. However, it can be overdone really quickly. FWIW, for some of us older Cyburbs, our baby and kid pix are in b/w.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.
    Posts
    18,117
    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    Ansel Adams anyone? When it is done right, I like it. However, it can be overdone really quickly. FWIW, for some of us older Cyburbs, our baby and kid pix are in b/w.
    There are a few others that are carved into the walls of caves too.
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post



    Off-topic:
    On the Cyburbia Dot Map, can you move me from GR MI to Raleigh?
    I haven't updated the Cyburbia Dot Map in years and can't even find my original map to update. Can you still access it? (All I get is a redirect). It was all supposed to be taken down when Geocities ceased to exist in 2009.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.
    Posts
    18,117
    Quote Originally posted by Super Amputee Cat View post
    I haven't updated the Cyburbia Dot Map in years and can't even find my original map to update. Can you still access it? (All I get is a redirect). It was all supposed to be taken down when Geocities ceased to exist in 2009.
    Never mind... I hadn't clicked on in.
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Black and white films
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 15
    Last post: 13 Nov 2015, 10:43 AM
  2. Replies: 1
    Last post: 14 Oct 2009, 2:58 PM
  3. Replies: 23
    Last post: 11 Oct 2009, 4:09 PM