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:
Modern use of Black-and-White
Since the advent of color, black-and-white media often connotes something "nostalgic", historic, or anachronistic. For example, the 1998 Woody Allen film Celebrity was shot entirely in black-and-white, and Allen has often made use of the practice since Manhattan in 1979. Other films, such as The Wizard of Oz (1939), American History X and Pleasantville play with the concept of the black-and-white anachronism, using it to selectively portray scenes and characters who are either more outdated or dull than the characters and scenes shot in full-color. This manipulation of color appears in the film Sin City and the occasional television commercial. Wim Wenders' 1987 film Wings of Desire uses sepia-tone black-and-white for the scenes shot from the angels' perspective. When Damiel, the angel (the film's main character), becomes a human, the film changes to color emphasising his new "real life" view of the world.
Since the late 1960s, few mainstream films have been shot entirely in black-and-white. The reasons are frequently commercial, as it is difficult to sell a film for television broadcasting if the film is not in color. Monochrome film stock is rarely used at the time of shooting, even if the films are intended to be presented theatrically in black-and-white. Movies such as John Boorman's The General and Joel Coen's The Man Who Wasn't There were obliged to be filmed in color by their respective crews, despite being presented in black-and-white for artistic reasons. Clerks is one of the few well-known recent films shot in black-and-white for no artistic purpose; because of the extremely low out-of-pocket budget, the production team could not afford the added costs of shooting in color (though the difference in film stock price would be slight, the store's fluorescent lights could not be used to light for color; by shooting in black and white, the film-makers did not have to rent lighting equipment).
Some modern film directors will occasionally shoot movies in black and white as an artistic choice, though it is much less common for a major Hollywood production. This is also true of black-and-white photography, where many photographers choose to shoot in solely black and white, since the stark contrasts enhance the subject matter. For example, the movie π is filmed in entirely black and white, with a grainy effect until the end.
Some formal photo portraits may still use black-and-white. Many visual art photographers use black-and-white in the work; The Center for Fine Art Photography is one gallery out of many that have special black-and-white exhibitions
Most computers had monochrome (black-and-white, black and green, or black and amber) screens until the late 1980s; however, some home computers could be connected to television screens to eliminate the extra cost of a monitor. These took advantage of NTSC or PAL encoding to offer a range of colors from as low as 4 (IBM CGA) to 128 (Atari 800) to 4096 (Commodore Amiga). Early videogame consoles such as the Atari Video Computer System/VCS/2600 supported both black-and-white and color modes via a switch, as did some of the early home computers; this was to accommodate black-and-white TV sets which would display a color signal poorly. (Typically a different shading scheme would be used for the display in the black-and-white mode.)
In computing terminology, black-and-white is sometimes used to refer to a binary image consisting solely of pure black pixels and pure white pixels; what would normally be called a black-and-white image, that is, an image containing shades of gray, is referred to in this context as grayscale.
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