I stumbled across these cat photos. I have always particularly liked black-and-white photographs probably because they were the sort of photographs I took way back in the 1970s. I am nostalgic about that era; the era of Cartier Bresson and the Magnum photographic agency. Magnum were famous for high-quality photo journalism and many of their photographers were and still are famous (i.e Robert Capa).
Anyway, back to cats! The first one shows the supreme vulnerability of a newborn kitten:
The second one is quite striking but not quite such a good photograph showing two black cats confidently marching towards the camera, one of them calling out. I get the distinct impression that the person photographing them called for them, perhaps calling to say that dinner is ready.
Regrettably, I do not have photo credits of his photographs (except you can see a faint credit embossed in the top photo), which is not untypical today on the Internet because photographs are frequently recycled through a myriad of websites. Pinterest started this destruction of intellectual property rights. Actually, it may have been Google who first started trampling over intellectual property rights by presenting the results of an image search, initially, on their website so that two clicks were required to go from the Google search result to the web page where the image is displayed.
As far as I’m concerned it was just a way of increasing hits on their site so that they can maintain the number 1 position in the world over Facebook.
On a technical point, I don’t think shooting in black-and-white on a digital camera results in quite the same image quality as using black-and-white film in, what is now, an old-fashioned camera. There is a certain quality that only black-and-white film can produce. I still have an old 35mm camera that uses film. Of course, with a film camera you don’t see what you’ve taken after you have taken it. We are used to that now but at the time you knew that you had taken a good photograph even though you could not check it.
There was also a lot of excitement after you knew you had taken a good photograph waiting to process it and then print the negative. In addition, the tactile aspect of old fashion photography has been lost. What I mean is darkroom work. Developing and printing negatives and working with chemicals and paper to create a little bit of art or a least you hoped it was something akin to art.
Back in the old days, fashion photographers used to use Polaroid film as a way of checking lighting etc. before then taking the photograph with, for example, colour transparency film. It was a more laborious way of doing things. It slowed things down and I wonder whether there was some advantages in that.
Today, photographs are, perhaps, losing their value because they are so easy to take and so many more photographs are taken with digital photography. In addition, because photo editing is so commonplace these days some of the intrinsic truth in a well taken photograph has been lost. Photographs are almost becoming like paintings pretending to be photographs.
One of the great benefits of a well timed black-and-white photograph (“the decisive moment” – Bresson) was that it presented exactly what was in front of the camera. It carried some truth although, of course, a moment in time does not necessarily reflect the truth of a situation unless it is a landscape photograph.
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