Saturday, 29 September 2007
There has been some recent back and forth between Tim Atherton and Doug Stockdale on the nature of Black and White images in the digital age. Tim is generally complaining that digital B&W, whether direct from a digital camera or via a scan has too much of a "smooth" appearance. There is too little "texture" (for want of a better word) to the images - too sterile. Doug's response is (to greatly sumarise): it's all good, just different but care is needed with the deep shadows.
My thoughts overall: digital can be what you want, film you're stuck with the characterisitics of a given film but have an initial choice.
I have certainly been looking more critically at the darkest tones, though, for my black and white stuff. There are some times when I like an image without deep shadows but I do get the point that more attention needs to be applied to getting real blacks in there.
I'm also not convinced that the grainy, tactile (for want of a better word) feel of film cannot be achieved with digital. In general, the noisefrom high-ISO shooting gives a nice textured feeling and is quite effective for difficult situations. Of course, the newest cameras arriving are pushing the noise levels down at high ISO.
Maybe this will lead to an active market in older digital cameras to provide that grainy feel.