Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/10/21

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Subject: Re: [Leica] B&W / Color
From: (Ted Grant)
Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1998 08:52:53 -0700

Hi Jim,
<<<Back when I started in photography, I was in Junior Hi, 8th grade, 13 years
old, 1951.>>>>>

I was going to say I must have been following you in the photography
learning days, however at 13 years old in 1951, I was already married two
years so I guess you were following me.

Federal enlarger

Rollicord, owned it 28 days and turned it in for a Rollieflex as I just
knew the Rollieflex took better pictures. :) Cost me a 50% loss! And the
Rollieflex was $310.00 cdn.

Did the yo-yo method a couple of times...only roll of 35 mm film and long arms!

<<<Federal enlarger and set it up in my bedroom closet on a card table.>>>>

Just after we were married, my wife Irene bought me a camera for my
birthday. We were living in a three room a sun room. To make a
darkroom I took the blankets off our bed and nailed them over the windows
in the sun room, but could only work at night...  Irene got really ticked
off cause I kept making holes in the corners of the blankets. :)

When we moved to a bigger downstairs flat, the stairway to the cellar had
been closed off and so I made the landing into a darkroom. A real
"cubby-hole" space for me, enlarger,  three trays and that was it. But it
worked and I made a lot of money out of that little place.

>At Brooks, in 1960, you start with only a view camera, incident meter, and
>B&W film. Super XX.>>>>>>>

I bought an read every photo magazine I could get my hands on and tried all
the the articles illustrated. Lighting, exposures, composition, printing,
developing film and prints. Not one iota of formal training until after I
worked as a pro and then attended a few workshops by the news photographers

>I had to give some history to show that I've paid my dues in B&W.>>>>>>

Like wise here!
>The bottom line to this story... B&W photography is immensely more
>difficult than color.>>>>>>>

I agree completely,  simply because you only have two elements in B&W...the
content and the more important...the light to work with.

Colour is much easier, as most "ordinary folks" see the colour and make
comments like, "gee isn't that a great colour picture!" Not that the colour
really has anything to do with the content except using colour film to make
images. In many cases they miss the "content factor" due to the colour
taking them away from the content.

<<<<<To make negatives that contain the proper dynamic range, you must
calculate the proper exposure (not necessary the gray card value - as is
the normal case with color).>>>>>>>
I didn't repeat the complete section!

Your technical side just puts me to shame, as I still don't know any of
this stuff after 48 years of shooting B&W and colour. I've always just done
the "Geez look at that! Click!" picture taken. :) How and why and theory is
just beyond me and I never took the time to learn any of it, as I just
wanted to shoot and my career evolved in such a manner.  It seemed I was
doing something right, even though I didn't know how or why.  Just got
lucky a lot of times! :) :)

At this time of life I'm still committed to B&W as the more powerful of the
two films, certainly when photographing people. And if that isn't true to a
major degree, the ad agencies wouldn't be using B&W to sell everything from
cars to clothes, to you name it, compared to complete colour ads of the

And one more time:

"When you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes!
When you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls!"

And that's why I prefer B&W and the power of the image created by it.

The late Harry Reasoner of TV fame is quoted,  "There isn't anything like a
great big beautiful black and white photograph which colour television can
never match!"

Ted Grant
This is Our Work. The Legacy of Sir William Osler.