Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Do Old Men Dream In Black And White?

I recall, many, many years ago, having a discussion with my brother, Roger, as to whether we dream in colour or black and white. I was a young lad taking photographs, with a budget that could not even imagine the expenses involved in colour photography. He was older, wiser and a "proper artist" with tubes of watercolour paint of every hue. "Of course we don't dream in black and white, black and white is a completely unnatural way of seeing the world brought about by the technical inability of you photographers".  The conversation took place sixty years ago and therefore I might not have remembered it word-for-word, but it went something like that. And no doubt, before the day is out, Roger will be correcting my faulty memory from the other side of the world.

We may not dream in black and white, but it is the palette of choice of my memory. I took this photograph fifty years ago on one of those little afterthought terraces up Southowram Bank in Halifax. Surely the grass must have been green, the stone brown and the sky blue: but I don't remember it like that.

There is an enthusiasm at the moment to colourise old photographs. To do so, you make judgements about the correct colours to introduce to a scene. Sky is usually blue, and there is a fair chance that grass is green. But when I was a young, the sky was usually a mucky grey colour, and the grass could be as black as coal or as white as an old man's beard. The world was monochrome .... and I still dream of it that way.


  1. Interesting concept...and I have no answer. I just kind of see and know my dreams...but they seldom have color in context. I like the header and the scene with the man at the top of the steps...the header having a bus just past the bridge...both have a bit of human touch.

  2. Maybe I did say something like that. But sixty years on, it is my brother's masterly black and white photographs of the towns and villages of our youth that has brought those days back to life.

    Now that I am rapidly approaching my eighties I find that my dreams, be them in colour or black and white, fondly revert back to those early years.

    Your photographs deserve exhibiting. If the Halifax Piece Hall still has an art gallery, I'm putting your name down. Seriously!

    1. What can I say! Praise indeed.

    2. Margaret4:46 PM

      This is a reply to Roger! Good to hear from/about you! Do you remember talking about green paint on listed buildings in Sowerby Bridge? Or any colour but white! Have you seen the pictures of Bolton Brow chapel recently??
      All the best, Margaret Barnes


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