It is the way photography started, and still a beautiful option for Amateurs and Professionals alike.

It seems now that color has wrested all of the available photography turf from beneath black and white, but it is still widely in use. Many, including myself, consider black and white photography to be a more true representation of a moment, much the same as a book typically tells a better story than a movie. We, of course, live in a generation where new and shiny seem to rule, but almost no one is exempt from awe upon seeing a beautifully made B & W photograph. Ansel Adams is undoubtedly an artist in this field. His craftsmanship has made his a household name. Upon seeing his works, few can doubt the depth and scope of reality captured in this medium. I would almost go as far as to say it captures more than the eye can see.

I have conciously set up photographs and, when I print them, I am stunned to see what they contain. Even though I remember what I was thinking and picturing at that time, it still amazes me when the developer has done it's job.

I will not argue that color does not have it's place, and it is indeed a very large place, I would scarcely dream of trying to capture a sunset or a caribbean blue sea with monochrome. But for many things, I prefer Black and White. It brings a scene, a person, a landscape down to it's most simple and most complex, and we see what is, not what we want to see.

There are several filters, used exclusively in the darkroom (as you print your image onto the light-sensitive paper) to increase/decrease contrast in a black and white photograph. To use them, you eject the small slide (just underneath the lamp, above the negative tray for most enlargers) and insert the filter of your choice.
You must compensate to some degree for the diffusing/light-absorbing qualities of any colored sheet of plastic, increasing the time the light is on and such.

There are a variety of photographic filters numbered from 0 to 5. Filter 0 adds very little contrast; filter 5 results in almost absolute contrast.

Undoubtedly, Black and White Photography has its uses, and will look much better for a large number of themes than ordinary colored snapshots.

However, due to some factors inherent to our large scale economy, the costs for B&W film and it's processing may have become prohibitive for average home use. At least were I live, all the enlargements of a B&W picture have to be done manually, as opposed to a minilab's automatic color film processing.

There are three ways of getting through it, and have your B&W photos cheaper, or at the same cost than its colored counterparts.

  1. If you had gone digital for photographing, just bring the photo to your favorite image manipulation program, and reduce saturation to zero. It' quite simple, although I have not seen anyone doing it.
  2. There is a Kodak, the KODAK T400 CN film that although is Black and White,is made to be handled in the normal C-41 color film processing. This will leverage its handling costs to those of color negative printings. However, my only experience with this film was not quite satisfactory -the minilab guys failed to correctly calibrate their machine,so all my photos got a pinkish hue on them. They didn't look bad,but didn't look quite B&W either.
  3. Use a home made darkroom and process your own photos. You will have to spend a little time, and arrange an enlarger, but this is by far the cheapest way of making printed B&W photos (even digital will become more expensive, if you intend to put them in print). Besides, there is the unique experience of doing it yourself - having an option to choose zoom factor, contrast, framing for each photo, and them using any of many darkroom techniques.

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