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Do you remember black and white?


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About JK

A frustrated academic, I want to start a social movement that will bring people together to create a better world. The world is far from ideal and who is going to change it if we don’t?

Happiness is a birth right and at the very least, a worthy ambition for us all. We have a responsibility to work together to help all people experience happiness. Please join with me


It was a time when most of your media was devoid of colour. And it was great!

Even if you answered ‘yes’ to this question, you could be in for a shock. The truth is, nothing has ever been black and white.  

They were happy days in the time of black and white.

They were happy days in the time of black and white. Picture: Shutterstock

Setting aside the fact that humans cannot see true black -- by definition, black is the absence of colour and, as such, can't be seen by the human eye -- what might be described as black and white is very rare, and generally reserved for sporting jumpers and the occasional animal, say, a dog.

What we most often call black and white is actually monochrome: black and white at the extremes and all the various shades of grey in between. The photographs, television and newspapers you probably remember were never black and white, they were monochrome.

Now we have established that, do you remember when most of your media was monochrome?

Do you remember when your daily newspaper was completely devoid of colour, at least in so far as ink was concerned? 

Do you also remember how the stories were well crafted, and the photographs told a story in themselves? The journalists and photographers knew their craft and worked with what they had to produce a publication worth reading.

Some would say they produced a better product that the full-colour publications of today.

I believe that monochrome newspapers have always had more credibility.

Do you remember when all your photographs were monochrome and you stored them in a photo album?

Do you still look through those photo albums and enjoy those now-faded photographs? The person taking the shots did it with care in an effort to capture a moment they knew would be lost otherwise. Thought was given to the composition and lighting.

Some would say that these photographers produced more accurate memories than those of today.

I believe monochrome photography is growing in popularity again with good reason.

Do you remember when your favourite television programs were all monochrome? 

Here in Australia, all television programs were monochrome until 1976. These were the days of F-Troop, Steptoe and Son, Get Smart, The Beverley Hillbillies, The Avengers, Z Cars, Petticoat Junction and many more iconic programs. They were fun to watch, despite the lack of colour and reality.

Some would say that the producers were more skilful than those of today, doing more with less.

I also seem to remember the programs, and even individual episodes, more than anything I see today.

I don't believe that progress or change are bad things. To the contrary, change is the key to progress and is essential. Change is inevitable and to be encouraged. I love change, I thrive on it. I try to encourage it and the world needs more of it.

Progress driven by change should make the world a better place for us all. But in this change and progress, we should try not to rely too heavily on new technology and in so doing take away from the beauty of a more simplistic pallet.

As far as I can see, much of the journalism and photographic brilliance underpinning the monochrome newspapers of the past should not be lost because they have colour. The composition and effort put into crafting and storing memories should not be lost because we have colour and digital photography. The mastery of simple 20 minutes monochrome television comedy should not be lost because we have colour and CGI special effects.

Surely we are better off building on the skills, attitudes and technologies of the past, and using them to make the best possible use of the new technologies as they arise. We should not let the skills, attitudes and technologies of the past be lost or forgotten just because we have new technologies. Surely we are better off integrating the best of the old and new with a view to leveraging the best of both.

I don’t look back at the past with nostalgic eyes. The past was not without its problems.

The world was not a better place, but none of this means that some things were not better in the past, and I would argue that the standard of journalism, the quality of photography, the love in the photographs and the crafting in the small-budget television programs was better when the world was viewed in monochrome.

What do you think? 

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