Naha, Japan on the island of Okinawa. Why # -18,762? Well, I figure that I have taken at least 18,761 photographs between 1966 when this one was created and 2003 when I first started my ku series.
I have posted this photograph to emphasize that there is no taboo regarding BW photography. None. Zero. Nada. I have also put out an SOS to a few BW practioners I know to come on board. Here's hoping we see something soon. (Hey Thomas M., are you listening?)
In the mean time, I have been pondering the fate of BW photography in the digital age and the first thought that comes to mind is the word "effect". As in the comment repeated over and over on so many photo forums, "I like the BW effect." A comment that has me red-faced and screaming at my monitor, "HEY MORON, BW IS NOT AN EFFECT!!!!" A subset of this comment is the oft-repeated suggestion (upon viewing a color photograph), "This would be a good photograph to convert to BW."
The image that springs to mind is one of a befuddled and bewildered Ansel Adams casting about wondering which effect, color or BW, would be better for "Moonrise". Maybe he might decide to photograph in color because he could always convert to BW later.
Both of these comments have me concerned for the future of BW photography. Certainly there are still (double entendre) photographers who work in the BW genre and who understand the nuances of the medium's films and papers, but, like the photographic materials they work with, they seem to be an ever-diminisihing breed.
Sure, I have seen some BW inkjet prints printed with special BW ink sets that rival, and in some cases surpass, conventional/traditional BW prints. In most cases though, those prints have been made from scanned BW film originals. And, yes, there are PS/Lightroom conversion techniques that can yeld a very nice BW result. So the future isn't entirely bleak.
What happens when film disappears or becomes scarce (and costly)? Will a digital camera maker create a serious BW camera/sensor or in-camera software that allows BW photography to be the intended result?
What do you think?
And on a related topic, this photograph is from a 40 year-old BW negative. Anybody care to comment on the possible fate of 40 year-old digital files?
FYI The canal system on Okinawa, which feeds directly into the East China Sea or the Pacific Ocean (depending on which side of the island you are on), also doubled as the sewer "system". Everyday, when the tide went out (especially during the long hot summers), there was a "baking" effect that created a very pervasive odor. There's nothing I like better than a hot, humid day accented with the smell of "benjo". Although, it was something that I got use to.
FEATURED COMMENT: Brian Champman wrote: "......I know of quite a few digital photographers who focus almost exclusively on black and white (myself included)...".
publisher's disclosure Brian - Thanks for the thoughtful comments, much appreciated as always. I must admit that part of the reason behind this topic is to draw out a few digital-based BWers, and hopefully to be able to arm-twist them into sending a few photo submissions.