One of my many passions for photography is great black and white images. It does not just have to be images of people which is what my studio is all about, but also great black and white landscapes are interesting and beautiful. I spent the day at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection this week in Kleinburg Ontario to view what I think is one of the greatest photographers of black and white images Ansel Adams. I come from a background of pre digital when we had our own custom darkrooms at the studio and we still used film. As odd as it may sound I sometimes miss the smell of developer and fixer that was so much of the atmosphere of custom print making. As I stood in front of the many images on display of Ansel Adams work and admired the tones and the quality of the prints I could almost smell the beautiful smell that we no longer have due to the digital age. Ansel Adams was known for his outstanding print quality and the many hours he would spend in the darkroom applying his artful grace of dodging and burning a print till he got it just right. Not many photographers had this talent and the ones that did worked for years to prefect it and it became ones trade mark so to say. A truly great black and white portrait or print stands on its own. It has no color to draw the eye in, only the many shades of gray that make up a great black and white portrait. The print stands alone on its strength of character from the darkest blacks to the b rightist whites and every shade in between. O sure little things like compensation and lighting play a great part in the making of a great print, but the true beauty lye's in the tones of the black and white print.
It has taken me over 25 years to master the art of black and white printing and now I am able to use many of the tricks and techniques obtained over the years and apply them to my portraits in our digital darkrooms today. I still love black and white, but instead of getting my fingers wet and stinky like the good old days I get a sore back and eye fatigue from the many hours I spend on my computer reproducing the great qualities of black and white I was use to in the good old days. Through many hours of testing different papers and arriving at the ones that will stand the test of time and give me the qualities that I am looking for in a greet portrait print I am able to provide my clients with that outstanding black and white portrait.
If you have the chance and want to experience some truly fantastic and amazing black and white photography, take a trip to the McMichael Gallery, you won't be disappointed. Check their web site, the display only runs to the end of the month.