Black-and-white Photography: the Past and the Present


A monochrome or black-and-white photo is picture taken in black and white colors including also the shades of grey. Since it has been appeared it is widely admired for its minimalistic refinement and delicacy.

The first steady picture was taken in 1839 by Louis Jacques Daguerre, a French artist and chemist who named his first monochrome pictures “daguerreotypes”. Later he made a research concerning the possibility of taken the polychromatic ones.

In the series of experiments on discovering the way to take colored pictures a theory of the three basic colors was proved to give the opportunity to do that. This theory of a visual color transmission and receiving it by the human eye claims that every color can be created with the help of the thee basic ones- green, red and yellow. The first steady polychrome photo was taken by James Maxwell who was using the color detachment method. The quality of this picture was poor, but it had set up a new era in the history of photography and gave the impulse for further research.

The black-and-white photography was still developing as a separate and independent art, attracting both photos and viewers inspired by its sophisticated elegance. Firstly it seemed that the new possibilities of taking colored pictures will make the traditional black-and-white ones useless and the last will be lost somewhere in the depth of the ages gone. But they are still quite popular.

Produced with the help of the modern technologies they became a real classics in the art of photography and are a sign of a fine taste in such genres as nude or portrait photos. Nowadays the color pictures era transformed to he monochrome ones to reach the effect of mystery and make the composition more expressive. Many professional and amateur photographers prefer taking black-and-white photos to draw the viewers’ attention to the textures, shapes and the contour of the object shot as well as the play of light and shade. Such photos combine the simplicity and the great emotional expression. That can help the artist to exclude everything of a less importance, making the necessary accents and creating a more memorable composition.

The absence of colors in the photo may help people studying art to master their skills as the slightest mistakes will be explicit. It makes the students concentrate on the composition choosing the precise time of exposure and contrasting the right objects making their texture bold or softening it.

Today there is a number of ways to produce a monochrome photo. One may use a black-and-white film and a traditional film camera. For those who want to see their pictures immediately the best choice is a digital camera, but be aware that it shoots in color and only then transforms the image to a black-and-white one. That’s why many professionals prefer to take colorful pictures and turn them into the monochrome way with the help of graphic redactors.

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