Blogs > 37th Frame

Photography, notes, commentary and much more from former Reporter Online Editor Chris Stanley.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A bad rap for B&W

... everything looks WORSE in black and white
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away

Lyrics by Paul Simon

Watch political ads carefully.

Cue: ominous music.
Cue: Low-voiced announcer trashing a "bad" candidate
Cue: Black-and-white photos of said candidate, looking sideways or eating
Cue: Negative newspaper headlines about candidate, stacked one on top of another
Cue: Upbeat music
Cue: Same announcer, after a scotch or two
Cue: Well-lit color photos of "good" candidate, hopefully with children, police or veterans
Cue: Positive headlines, set in light, colorful type

There are so many beautiful black-and-white photos out there. Think Edward Weston or Ansel Adams.
There are many ugly color photos. Think about the many war photos we have seen from Korea, Vietnam and Iraq over the years.
It's a shame that black-and-white photography gets so thoroughly trashed by our political candidates this time of year, every year.
It's not the candidates that look good or bad, just our perceptions of what we see and how it is presented. If we can train ourselves to recognize and overcome "visual bias," then we have won a battle against those who would like to manipulate us.


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