In praise of black and white

Paul Simon had it wrong. In his up-tempo toe-tapper “Kodachrome”, Simon lamented “everything looks worse in black and white”.
Sorry Paul, not so.
Friday night I stood in front of a beautiful black and white print, a real honest-to-goodness black and white print made from a negative, and realized just how much I love black and white pictures.
The picture I was admiring was made by the talented Calgary documentary photographer George Webber and was on display at the recently-opened Esker Foundation Gallery in Calgary’s Inglewood neighbourhood.
Webber’s pictures, which document the prairies and the people who inhabit this flat empty land, is part of the exhibition called Splendid Isolation. The show features the work of three other photographers – Olga Chagaoutdinova, Orest Semchishen and Miruna Dragan.
Seeing Webber’s pictures made me nostalgic for the bygone days of black and white and for a fleeting moment, I thought about buying a brick of Tri-X and some chemistry, to relive those long-ago days.
However, I already have the next best thing to Tri-X.
My RD-1, an aging digital rangefinder camera made by Epson, makes me feel like I’m shooting with my Leica M4-2 loaded with black and white. The camera is small, quiet and on the black and white setting it produces a digital file with Tri-X like quality. And that works just fine for me.
I made this picture of the conductor on the Alberta Prairie Railway with the little Epson. The historic railway runs between Stettler and Big Valley.
More information on the exhibit Splendid Isolation can be found at

One thought on “In praise of black and white

  1. Nice control of the depth of field Grant. Got me curious about the camera. It really does look like an old Leica — the image I found appears to have f stops, iso, etc. with manual controls right there. I can see why you say it feels old style.

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