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Categorized | Articles, Mike Grandmaison

A Black and White Primer (preview)

©Mike Grandmaison
Clouds and Rocky Mountains reflected in Herbert Lake

Story and photography by Mike Grandmaison

I’ve loved black and white photography from the moment I picked up a camera. I studied the genre through books by some of the early masters such as Brett Weston (one of my all-time favourite photographers), Minor White, Ansel Adams, Paul Strand, Dorothea Lange and Henri Cartier-Bresson, as well as from the more recent masters like John Sexton, Bruce Barnbaum and Canadians Craig Richards and Yousuf Karsh. I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with the work of the masters as it provides invaluable insight as to what works in black and white photography. Look at the images carefully as well as the subject matter and try to understand how the masters created images that have stood the test of time. Because these photographs were made using film and processed in a darkroom doesn’t make them any less relevant in this digital age. Many of these older images still resonate very strongly today.


The early masters of photography worked in black and white mostly out of necessity as colour only evolved much later. Today, colour dominates; it’s everywhere. With the advent of digital, it became much easier to explore the world of black and white because we no longer need to spend time in an expensive darkroom, often filled with many toxic chemicals. Digital technology has given us much freedom to experiment beyond the world of colour that we’re so familiar with. Because black and white photography has a much longer history than colour photography, it doesn’t mean the latter is not as masterful an art. Some photographers and art galleries are quick to dismiss colour photography as not being worthy of “fine art.” Personally, I feel they are totally off the mark. You simply need to look at the extensive body of excellent and inspiring work by Canadian master photographer Freeman Patterson as well as countless others to see how absurd this really is. But I digress! Whether you choose to work in colour or in black and white at any particular moment is purely a personal decision.

When working in the black and white genre, it’s vital to understand which situations lend themselves to a successful black and white image …

To read and see more of Mike Grandmaison’s black and white imagery, and to read more of this not-to-miss issue please pick up the Winter 2018 issue today online or at your local newsstand. To never miss an issue you can subscribe here

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