Persistence

Finally replaced the battery for my G1 yesterday morning — once again able to run more than three or four shots before it poops out. Ran a couple of hundred frames through it since then.

Picking through the World Press Photo 2002 book, I realized: despite a ton of assurances that journalism has gone digital in a deep deep way, you might not know it looking at this "best-of-the-best" collection. What I was surprised at was the persistence, if not of film itself (hard to say for professional gear these days, really), but of Black and White Photography.

Looking through even the abbreviated top story listings on the WPP website, it's quickly evident that Black and White holds its own against color — to my surprise there's not just a healthy thread of B&W, B&W is actually more than half of the work represented there.

The questions I ponder: is this really representative of most photography made for press publication in this day and age? Are the judges simply predisposed to prefer B&W? Are PJs and editors just more inclined to send B&W for "best-of" competition? Are these downsampled color digital shots, or are the best shooters still toughing it out with their M4's and rolls of Tri-X? Will the onslaught of over-equipped embedded PJs in Iraq and the growth of digital delivery turn the tide to color for 2003? Or are we, as I suspect, seeing something fundamental in photography that is unlikely to change, regardless of the variations in technology?

What appeals to me most about this is that B&W is being used in an immediate way, without an appeal to nostalgia or pictorial cuteness. Now if only I could get a predictably-decent monochrome print out of my Epson.

Comments on "Persistence"

Dirk
October 24, 2003 12:43 AM

Hello, like your site & many thanks for Canon Gx pages!

As for b/w... yes, I was reminded of that when I saw the documentary "War Photographer" about James Nachtwey (an excellent film about a remarkable man BTW) - it's Tri-X all the way (although he shoots some colour, I think one of his two bodies is loaded with b/w, the other with colour).

Dirk

bjorke
October 24, 2003 07:02 AM

You might appreciate the snap at the right, then — Courtney & I were shopping, looked up, and there amidst a clutch of black-suited handlers, was James Nachtwey, reluctant pitchman for Canon digital (on their Digital Workflow CD, he says he uses digital "when he has to" — specifically when working on ultra-short deadlines).

Of course at that moment my Canon hit the end of the roll so I got off this quick one from 30 feet away with the Contax, slow film and a wide angle lens indoors, ugh. He promptly stepped into an elevator & was gone.

Celebrity issues aside, War Photographer is currently running on HBO in the US and will soon crop up on DVD here (it's been available for a few months in Europe). Courtney & I saw it theatrically about a year ago, and I plan to snatch up the DVD as quick as I can.

Dirk
November 3, 2003 03:59 PM

Hello again,

I like the "when he has to" qualifier :)

As for "the snap at the right", I am somehow unable to find it...

Dirk

 

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