Why We Like Black and White
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Article and photos by Bill Dobbins

Not all animals have very good or even any ability to see color. Birds have good color vision because it lets them see things like brightly color fruit against the background of a green jungle. Cats can only see color if the object is very close up and fills their visual field. Insects see color very intensely but it is usually light in the ultraviolet range.

Good color vision was obviously a valuable aspect in the evolution of our species. Seeing color in the jungle gave us the same advantages as the birds and out on the veldt in Africa the landscape tends to be uniformly beige so anything with color stands out. Humans enjoy have a color sense as is evident by our love of flowers, colorful clothing and even food presentation. So why is it we continue to like black and white photography so much?

The reason photography was mostly BW for the first 100 years or so of its existence was primarily technological. Although experiments were made in color photography as far back as the 1840s, it was until after the turn of the 20th century that real progress was made in developing film that could capture¬†the color of a subject. Eventually, two different approaches were created for commercial film. A process like Kodachrome used three different matrices of different contrast ranges to…

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