Black & White photography

Hans Vleugels

Yamadori
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When looking at professional photographs, I noticed there are beautiful black & white pictures. Or sepia, making the picture look very old. I almost never saw this with bonsai pictures, unless reading very old books or magazines. Nobody ever experimented with B & W or sepia photography, or is it just not a good idea with bonsai?

Hope to see some quality B & W pictures soon... :rolleyes:

Regards,
Hans
 
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Vance Wood did some shots long ago in black and white, I hope he doesn't mind that I dug these old ones up. Both photos are by Vance Wood and hotlinked from our club website.



 

AndyWilson

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That bottom pine looks fantastic, if only you could enhance the contrast to see the trunk a bit better, but wow all the same.
 

Hans Vleugels

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This is what I mean. If you take away the colors, you take away something important in bonsai. The color of pot, or fresh green needles, cracked gnarly bark are beautiful to look at. But by using B & W photography you add some old looking patina to it. It looks older for some reason. Maybe lightning and contrast are even more important than with color photography, but I will try to make some B & W and sepia pictures myself today...

Regards,
Hans
 

Ashbarns

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Great shots of those trees and yes it does add a different dimension for the viewer.

Ash
 

Graydon

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I like those black and whites. I also love sepia tone photos but I am afraid it makes a tree look a bit dead.

On a side note I now know how to photo my dead trees so nobody knows that they are dead.
 

Brent

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I think the biggest problem with black and white photos of bonsai is the loss of information. Color carries information, and in a subject as dense and rich as bonsai, we need need all the visual clues we can get. Even good color photography on a monitor rarely does a good job of conveying what the tree 'really' looks like. Without enormous size and impeccable contrast, BW photos of bonsai trees lose the boundaries of foliage and wood, and details of feature lose much of their meaning.

Brent
EvergreenGardenworks.com
see our blog at http://BonsaiNurseryman.typepad.com
 

AndyWilson

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I like those black and whites. I also love sepia tone photos but I am afraid it makes a tree look a bit dead.

On a side note I now know how to photo my dead trees so nobody knows that they are dead.

:eek: You wouldnt!

(do tell;) )
 
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I think the biggest problem with black and white photos of bonsai is the loss of information. Color carries information, and in a subject as dense and rich as bonsai, we need need all the visual clues we can get. Even good color photography on a monitor rarely does a good job of conveying what the tree 'really' looks like. Without enormous size and impeccable contrast, BW photos of bonsai trees lose the boundaries of foliage and wood, and details of feature lose much of their meaning.

Brent
EvergreenGardenworks.com
see our blog at http://BonsaiNurseryman.typepad.com

I couldn't agree more, Brent. Anyone who has pored over old bonsai books with their b&w photos, trying to decipher what was going on in there, can appreciate color photography. For art's sake, maybe a b&w or sepia might be interesting, but that's as far as I can go on it.
 

AlainK

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I like those black and whites. I also love sepia tone photos but I am afraid it makes a tree look a bit dead.

On a side note I now know how to photo my dead trees so nobody knows that they are dead.

You bet!

I've just done a kind of "Death Valley penjing" with a dead cotoneaster, a hedgehog skull and a sedum tricolor to keep a touch of hope in a rather eerie landscape :eek:
 

agraham

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While I can see your point about B&W photos adding a patina of age to bonsai;I'd say it's like making black and white photos of the Mona Lisa.Black and white photography is an art that stands alone...or should be able to at least.

andy
 

irene_b

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AH I am glad that you posted that one Andy!!
It is my favorite.
Mom
 
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While I can see your point about B&W photos adding a patina of age to bonsai;I'd say it's like making black and white photos of the Mona Lisa.Black and white photography is an art that stands alone...or should be able to at least.

andy

What a great point, Andy! Of course with digital photography, everyone thinks they are a pro, but taking a color digital photograph and making it black and white does not approach the quality of a real professional's bw photography.
 

Hans Vleugels

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Of course you can lose important information by making B & W pictures. Color means a lot in bonsai photography. But I bet you can make damn good pictures too with only these two colors. And make something old look even older. Or give a particular setup something extra. I am sure it can work sometimes, but as said here, it does not work always... It's like a simple portrait of a kid. I have seen many professional photographer using B & W pictures when a kid makes it's first communion. And it looks good. Not always, but sometimes it does..

So what is the trick? What do you need to make it work?

Regards,
Hans
 
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Hans,

I agree, Black and White does not work all the time...but then again, neither does color. ;)



Will
 

agraham

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Hans,

You need the correct lighting and subject to give the correct tones and contrast.Composition becomes much more important,also.Black and white photography is much more difficult than color photography where the colors themselves give you some separation of objects and some "punch" and excitement to the picture..I gave up bonsai for a period of time a few years back.B&W photography became my medium of expression.I wasn't particularly good at it though,probably for the same reasons that so many people fail at bonsai.

It takes a good eye,lots of patience,time,dedication,and a basic understanding of that darn "a" word.Dare I say it?....shhhhh, "art".The learning curve is no less steep than in bonsai if you really want to go beyond the hobby level.Plus..with a capital P.....talent and an imaginative spirit play a big part in going beyond the ordinary.

Chris,

The silver/digital debate was heated when I was playing around with photography.I have a feeling that digital has slowly won over many of the pros.The manipulations made in the darkroom are so much easier with the many photoshop like programs now.Even the paper and inks to print on and with have made enormous strides in quality in the last few years.And the digital cameras pros use are getting better and better.

andy
 
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irene_b

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Do Not let Andy fool you in to believing that he was not very good in the black and white photos.....He is damm good!
Mom
 

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