Wednesday, April 11, 2012

When Everything Was Black And White

Color photography was actually invented a lot longer ago than most people believe – indeed, there were experimental color shots taken as long ago as the 19th century. However, the use of color photography was hugely uncommon until the 1960s, and it was another few decades after that before newspapers printed color shots with any kind of regularity.

This – combined with the presence of old-fashioned black and white movies – gives an impression of age and for some people an impression of depth to photographs taken these days using black and white film or filters. Many of the iconic photographs of all time, taken as they were in the early half of the 20th century, are known to us in black and white.

One of the most famous images – the assassination of President John F Kennedy, an incident that took place in 1963 – happened after color photography was introduced, but before it was widespread and before color photographs could be widely reproduced. Hence, it is an incident we “remember” in black and white.

Photographs of the first Moon Landing do exist in color, but the most iconic – of Neil Armstrong descending the ladder onto the Moon's surface – is also in black and white. Whether it is for reasons of historic grandeur, or because of the questions left unasked, many people even in this age of color photography still like to use black and white for more artistic shots.

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