Colour in a mono world

The evening of Monday 23rd July saw a presentation by Dave Burgess entitled Colour in a Mono World, which was his personal view of a period when the prevailing thought was that black and white was “good” and colour was not of the same value. He used the images of colour photographers of the 60’s and 70’s. He started with Martin Parr and his views of modern British life. Dave thought that his bright, saturated, contrasty images presaged today’s modern LED TV’s. Dave then moved on to William Eggleston who used colour in a similar way in America. Then Ernst Hass who was also experimenting with colour in America.  Saul Leiter followed who could be classed as a street photographer and Franco Fontana who captured striking colour and contrast in landscapes. ­ Dave rounded off his first section by showing examples of where artists had used photographs in their works, presenting photography as merely a component of the image. The history of photography was then explored showing images of the very earliest works starting with Fox-Talbot.
After the break Dave spent some time on the science of colour perception and recording leading to how colour photography was developed. One of the main subjects of this section was the works of a Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky who was a Russian chemist and photographer. He is best known for his pioneering work in color photography of early 20th-century Russia using 3 different exposures onto separate plates which were then combined to produce very striking colour images. Their quality was amazing for that era and recent digital techniques have been used to correct damage the plates have suffered. His work became a unique chronicle of life in Russia at the time (you can see some of his work here). Finally Dave finished the second half of his talk with the work of digital colourists. Their transformation of old black and white images was quite remarkable.
Thanks to Dave for a fascinating evening.

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