Black-and-white, often abbreviated B/W or B&W, is a term referring to a number of monochrome forms in visual arts.
Black-and-white as a description is also something of a misnomer, for in addition to black and white, most of these media included varying shades of gray. Further, many prints, especially those produced earlier in the development of photography, were in sepia (mainly to provide archival stability), which gave a richer, more subtle shading than reproductions in plain black-and-white, although less so than color.
Some popular black-and-white media of the past include:
- Movies and animated cartoons. While some color film processes (including hand coloring) were experimented with and in limited use from the earliest days of the motion picture, the switch from most films being in black-and-white to most being in color was gradual, taking place from the 1930s to the 1960s. Even when most studios had the capability to make color films, they were not heavily utilized as tinting techniques and the Technicolor process were expensive and difficult. For years color films were not capable of rendering realistic hues, thus mostly historical films or musicals were made in color and many directors preferred to use black-and-white stock. For the years 1940–1966 a separate Academy Award for Best Art Direction was given for black-and-white movies, along with one for color.
- Photography was black-and-white or shades of sepia. Color photography was originally rare and expensive, and again often less than true to life. Color photography became more common in the middle of the 20th century, and has become even more common since. Black-and-white remains a niche market for photographers who use the medium for artistic purposes. This can take the form of black-and-white film or digital conversion to grayscale, with optional digital image editing manipulation to enhance the results. For amateur use, certain companies such as Kodak manufactured black-and-white disposable cameras until 2009. Also, certain films are produced today which give black-and-white images using the ubiquitous C41 color process.
- Television programming was first broadcast in black-and-white. Several Japanese electronics manufacturers in 1969, standardized the first format for industrial/non-broadcast videotape recorders (VTRs) called EIAJ-1 Some color broadcasts in the USA began in the 1950s, with color becoming common in western industrialized nations during the late 1960s and then standard in the 1970s. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) settled on a color NTSC standard in 1953, and the NBC network began broadcasting a limited color television schedule in January, 1954. Color television became more widespread in the U.S. between 1963 and 1967, when the CBS and ABC networks joined NBC in broadcasting full color schedules. Canada began airing color television in 1966 while the United Kingdom established an entirely color system in November 1969 known as PAL. New Zealand began color broadcasting in 1973, and Australia kept airing black-and-white broadcasts until 1975. While no longer used professionally, many consumer camcorders have the ability to record in black-and-white.
- Most newspapers were black-and-white until the late 1970s; The New York Times and The Washington Post remained in black-and-white until the 1990s. Some claim that USA Today was the major impetus for the change to color. In the UK, color was only slowly introduced from the mid 1980s. Even today, many newspapers restrict color photographs to the front and other prominent pages since mass producing photographs in black-and-white is considerably less expensive than color. Similarly, daily comic strips in newspapers were traditionally black-and-white with color reserved for Sunday strips.
- Color printing has traditionally been more expensive. Sometimes color is reserved for the cover. Magazines such as Jet magazine was either all or mostly black-and-white until the end of the 20th century, when it became all-color. Manga (Japanese or Japanese-influenced comics) are typically published in black-and-white although now it is part of its image. School yearbooks are still entirely or mostly in black-and-white.
Here is an opportunity for you to choose what you think is better: