Shades of Grey: Do you know black-and-white photography?


By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

You may know a thing or two about photography, but how much do you really know about photography's black-and-white beginnings? There's a lot more to art's history than the advancements on your digital camera's auto zoom. Take our quiz to test your knowledge.

When is the first photograph believed to have been taken?

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce of France experimented with photography for a lengthy period of time. Drawing from his lithography interests, he used engraving stones, glass plates and the camera obscura to capture his first image in 1826.


What kind of crystals are involved in the chemistry of taking a traditional black-and-white photograph?

Light-sensitive film that contains silver halide crystals is used during the exposing stage of black-and-white photography. When light hits the film, a latent image, invisible to the human eye, is created by tiny quantities of metallic silver.


What does a stop bath do?

After exposing the film, there's still a lot of work to be done before you can have a finished photograph. A stop bath is usually a weak acid that halts the action of the development chemicals on a piece of film or photo paper. Without it, the chemicals would continue to make the film or print darker and darker.


What does a fixer do?

Areas of a piece of film or photo paper that were not exposed (the white areas) are still light-sensitive before fixer is applied. Once the film is bathed in a fixer, the unexposed silver halide is dissolved and the photograph can be viewed in daylight.


Why is red light used in a film darkroom?

Black-and-white film is sensitive to blue or blue and green parts of the visible spectrum. A red or amber light, also known as a safelight, a will not expose film.


How do you make a film appear "grainier" when doing black-and-white photography?

A film's speed (200, 300, 400, 800, etc.) indicates its light sensitivity. Insensitive films are called slow films and sensitive films are called fast films. Reducing the exposure time while using a fast film results in a grainier image quality.


How many steps are involved in the wet-plate photographic process?

Wet-plate photography involves heavy glass plates, a bulky camera and a portable dark room with all the necessary chemicals. From coating the glass plate with collodion to making a print, the entire process takes eight steps.


What is the photographic purpose of the accordion-like bellows on cameras from the 1800s and even some of today's modern studio setups?

Cameras with bellows were developed out of the desire to make cameras lighter and more portable. The bellows themselves were designed to keep light out.


When was the first color photo film released?

Autochrome plates, the first commercial color photo film, were released in 1907 by the Lumiere brothers in France.


What kinds of photographs are neutral-density filters most often used for?

Because neutral-density filters reduce the amount of light that passes through the lens, they are excellent in producing rich contrasts and detail in landscape photography.


Considered to be the father of modern day photojournalism, what is the name of the French photographer who made candid photography famous?

Henri Cartier-Bresson, an early adopter of the 35 mm format, primarily shot unposed pictures and captured newsworthy events.


Mathew Brady, a famous black-and-white photographer, became famous for taking pictures that documented which war?

Mathew Brady, born in 1822, became famous for his portraits and his documentation of the American Civil War.


Should a novice photographer use a viewfinder camera or a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera?

Because a viewfinder camera involves careful focusing, many lens changes and consistent maintenance, an SLR camera, equipped with a single lens and a reflective mirror system, allows the user to see what they're shooting directly. Therefore, an SLR camera, or a digital SLR with autofocus, is best for photography newcomers with simple needs.


When considering the sharpness of the images they create and the portability of the cameras that use them, what's the best film format to use?

Large-format cameras are not easily portable. While 35mm and medium-format cameras both have portable setups, medium-format film allows the user to magnify images with the least distortion. Therefore, medium-format film is the best selection when both portability and image sharpness are critical.


What is a pinhole camera?

Pinhole cameras are light-proof boxes with a small hole in one side. Usually made out of a cardboard or paper box, pinhole cameras are best known for their use in observing solar eclipses.


Should digital black-and-white photos be printed on a color printer?

Yes. Color printers use their full range of tones to capture the depth of greys in a black-and-white photo.


Why are subjects in early photos rarely smiling?

The exposure time required to capture early photos was so lengthy that people could not move at all or they would ruin the photograph. Along with not adjusting their stance or talking, subjects were often told not to smile.


What is the difference between dodging and burning?

Dodging lightens tones by decreasing the exposure in certain areas. Burning darkens tones by increasing the exposure in certain areas.


What's the difference between infrared film and black-and-white film?

Infrared film is sensitive to the full visual spectrum of light and extends into the infrared spectrum, opening new creative possibilities for the photographer. For example, an infrared sky gains striking detail because atmospheric haze does not scatter infrared wavelengths in the same way it does visible wavelengths.


How many more emulsion layers does color film have than black-and-white film?

Black-and-white film has a single layer in the emulsion. Color film has at least two additional layers in the emulsion, allowing it to capture multiple tones and hues.


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