Black and White photography is an artistic medium that attracts descriptive terms: Pure, Simplified, Minimalist, Stripped back to basics. Evocative of the past. All are true, in my opinion.
I am of a generation that grew up accustomed to a world that was viewed in black and white: pictures in newspapers and magazines were in black and white, the television was black and white. The books I read about explorers and mountaineers had illustrations in black and white. The images were stark, pure, cold – as befitted the environment they portrayed. And for 20 years I was a black and white printer. The medium stays in one’s blood, you fall in love with it and you never fall out of love with it.
Increasingly I find myself looking through my archive and enjoying the process of removing the veneer of colour and revealing the mountain-scape in black and white. Tomorrow – Wednesday – (or maybe it will be ‘today’ or even ‘yesterday’ by the time you read this), I am due to speak on ‘Black and White Photography’ at the Royal Society of Medicine’s camera club in London. The work involved in preparing a talk – selecting the images, re-sizing them, writing and setting up the Powerpoint presentation – is less of a chore when one is working within a medium that one loves.
The image above is one I have ‘converted’ in the last few days with the help of Nik Silver Efex again. It depicts two of the main mountains in the Mischabel chain of mountains that forms part of the ridge separating the Zermatt and Saas Fee valleys in the Valais Alps. The peak on the left is the Dom, the one on the right is the Taschhorn. The Dom has the distinction of being the highest mountain in Switzerland (its further away from us than the Taschhorn which explains why it looks the smaller of the two). You’ve probably never heard of the Dom and the fact that it is the highest Swiss mountain is one that often causes puzzlement. I ran a series of three posts about this peak well over two years ago. If you are interested, click here to find out more about this peak, and to read about an ascent.