Following a news story about Sean Walker, a man with a severe form of colour blindness called rod monochromatism, meaning he sees only in black and white, I thought of the days when all our photos and films were only in black and white. Sean says that the world in black and white is beautiful.
When I was a child, I used to look at an album of photos my father had brought back from the Middle East in 1942, but though they were not colour photos I never doubted there was beauty in the Cairo architecture, the Nile, the pyramids, the camels and their handlers. He took some of the photos himself, while others were taken by fellow soldiers and were shared with him.
I looked at a few photos that I’ve snapped of architectural subjects similar to those in the Egyptian photos, then I removed the colour and placed them side by side. Here are two bridges.
I like the soft edges in the old one, and I like the details visible in the new one. Sean Walker says that people look at his photos and put their own colours into them. My original photo of the new and old bridges at Batemans Bay in New South Wales shows a clear blue sky over equally blue water, the greys of steel and concrete bridges, green vegetation and a red crane in the background, whereas for the image of the Imbaba opening bridge over the Nile, I really do have to imagine the colours. Yet it’s a great photo, perhaps because of the perspective and the straight lines.
As Sean says, black and white is much more than the absence of colour.
The old opening bridge at Batemans Bay was pulled down a few weeks after I took this photo. Sniff. Many of us were sad.