(mostly) daily photoblog

Black and white always makes me feel cold.

What is it about black and white photos that feels so cold?

It was a very cool morning when I shot this.  I was wearing a cardigan sweater and t-shirt and freezing my niblets off as I stood on the back end of the ferry to take this shot.  When I was playing around with this in processing, I flipped the RAW photo to grayscale and felt that the photo suddenly matched the feeling that I had while I was on the ferry.

So, why it is that black and white photos feel cold?  Anyone?

12 responses

  1. I never feel that black and white photos are cold, actually. I love the grace and mystery of them.

    October 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    • I love the grace and mystery too, but it’s interesting to me that a photo processed in sepia feels warmer than a black and white photo.

      October 25, 2011 at 7:49 pm

      • that’s an interesting point. We often prefer sepia for that reason… maybe the origin of this strange perception depends on newspapers’ print colour…. good and bad news, always black and white…
        on the other side sepia can be more often the colour of “family”: your old aunt as a girl, your grandma, and similar….

        October 26, 2011 at 2:08 am

      • That’s true. I have a print that I bought that the photographer deliberately emphasized that. It looked like a straightforward black and white print. But upon framing, I realized that it was actually a very *very* subtle sepia.

        It occurred to me, however, that black and white will always feel warm simply due to my time with charcoal. The studio I worked in was an itty bitty room that felt like an oven. So grayscale of any kind brings that to mind! I do love this photo, by the way. The light is amazing!

        October 26, 2011 at 4:21 am

  2. Coldness might be in who looks at it… that shot in particular reminds something “warmer” not well definable to me (Julie) making me think of “My father’s eyes song”.. while to Alex this “black” see looks like petroleum….

    October 26, 2011 at 1:45 am

  3. Interesting composition where the traditional rules are left out. Nice shot!

    October 26, 2011 at 9:38 am

    • Yeah, I actually went out of my way to make sure that the horizon was right on the center line. The objects in the water just ended up where they are after I made a couple of minor crops.

      October 26, 2011 at 10:19 am

  4. When I look at the photo I see cold water and stormy skies. I know I would not want to go swimming and I feel I need more than a cardigan. Maybe the black and white accentuates the truth.

    Black and white to me is “stark”, while sepia is “aged”.

    October 26, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    • And aged is nostalgia, and nostalgia is a false warmth about a better time that once existed.

      As for the cardigan, it was not near enough. I ended up going back and getting a proper jacket in order to take more photos.

      October 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm

  5. Chloe

    i don’t get cold feelings from b&w photos, i did find though after reading your entry and re-viewing your photo that i could feel coldness from it – very interesting

    October 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm

  6. On the colour spectrum, there are cool colours and warm colours. Sepia is subtle yellows and oranges, which are warm colours. You can have a colour photograph that will feel just as cool as a b/w if the colours are cool such as some blues and greens. Interesting;y, there are cool greys and warm greys, and they, as all coulors, influence the feel of the photo in a b/w rendition. Your harbour photo gives me the shivers, whereas, if it were a golden sunset, it would warm me. They say, “Never paint your bedroom a cool colour (blue for example) as it will stiffle certain tendencies”. 🙂

    October 26, 2011 at 9:17 pm

  7. Patti J.

    Ever noticed how in winter a lot of the world looks black and white? Snow is white. Snow is cold. Except maybe yellow snow…or would that be sepia?
    Oh, and, wow… Niblets? HAHA!

    October 26, 2011 at 9:52 pm