The World in Black and White

While researching for an article on the human eye and the reason why we perceive snow as white, I came across many discussions on how light helps us we see different wavelengths of colors (which is why certain objects look a certain color). But that set me to thinking about how black and white photography used to be the norm.

This is how my mind works. Welcome to the labyrinth. Hope you brought snacks.

So of course, once I was off on that train of thought, I was curious about when the first color photograph appeared. Wikipedia had the answer:

The first color photograph made by the three-color method suggested by James Clerk Maxwell in 1855, taken in 1861 by Thomas Sutton. The subject is a colored ribbon, usually described as a tartan ribbon.

By James Clerk Maxwell (original photographic slides) ; scan by User:Janke. – Scanned from The Illustrated History of Colour Photography, Jack H. Coote, 1993. ISBN 0-86343-380-4., Public Domain,

From there I segued to black-and-white thinking and wound up stuck there. Did you know that there is a psychological term attached to this sort of thinking? Check it out:

Splitting (also called black-and-white thinking or all-or-nothing thinking) . . . is a common defense mechanism. The individual tends to think in extremes (i.e., an individual’s actions and motivations are all good or all bad with no middle ground).

Statements like the following are examples:
• It’ll always be like that.
• They will never change.
• I am worthless.

Ever have thoughts like that? I have. 😔 These thoughts are often byproducts of discouragement and defeat. I’m grateful for wise people who gently point out when the needle of my mind is stuck in the groove of this sort of thinking.

I can’t help thinking of Morpheus, a character in The Matrix (played by Laurence Fishburne), who advised,

I can do that by changing the “record” in my mind:

• One bad circumstance doesn’t dictate that life will always be the way it currently is. After all, seasons change.
• Even the most set-in-his/her way person people can change.
• I am valuable and strong.

Ever fall into a rut thought-wise? What did you do to climb out?

Henry insisted on a black-and-white photo with his newfound friend, the Pusheen Cat, both of whom say that strength is their defining trait.

Olive is like, “The world is always black and white as far as I’m concerned. Just look at me.”

Matrix gif from Tartan photo from Wikipedia. Other photos by L. Marie.

34 thoughts on “The World in Black and White

  1. “Where the mind goes, the man follows.” ~ Joyce Meyer
    This is a quote that has always hit home for me. It’s easy to allow our mind to spiral toward negative thinking. It’s good to know, we have all of the power to change our thoughts.

  2. Yes, yes, yes! Life is in the shades of gray, not in the extremes of black or white. Get caught up in extreme thinking and you’ll lose yourself in the process. I see this happen to people who live in fear.

    Also, didn’t know the first color photo was taken in the mid-1850s. I’m amazed.

    • I am too, Ally. I was thinking that perhaps in the early twentieth century, but not way back then. Makes me wonder what else was being developed way back when.

      You’re so right about fear. It is a crippler.

  3. Thank you for bringing Henry, Pusheen Car, and Olive to enhance your insightful story of color. You have many interests, l. Marie, which always makes your blog a delight to read.

    • Thank you, Marian! 😀 I’m very glad to know that my oddities delighted you. Sometimes after writing a post, I think, Well, I’ve done it this time. I’ve written a post that people will ignore. In fact, comments they made last year might disappear because they’re like, “I’m so done with this blog.” So, thank you. 😊

      Yes, I have to research a lot because of my different projects. And I’m curious about a lot of different things. People used to call that “being nosy.” I call it being curious. 😀

    • I have to second what Marian says here! Your posts are always interesting in a delightfully provocative way. You provoke me to think but to think about things that I enjoy thinking about, but rarely take the time to do. Your photos are whimsical, always bringing a smile to my face. (Oh, I do love that look on Olive’s face!)

  4. One of my favorite quotes is, “As we think, so shall it be.”
    Sometimes I allow myself to go with the flow and feel negative feelings for a bit. I find that if I fight against them, it just makes it harder to break free. If they last too long, there are a few songs that I play that sometimes snap me out of it. I also read my DailyWord inspirationals that help. 🙂

    My post today touches on this same subject for teenagers. I found it was harder to free my mind from those feelings back then.

    • Music is a great mood booster!

      I will look for that post, Lori.

      Okay, I slipped away to read it. Great post! Like you, I’m very grateful social media didn’t exist back in the day. Being a teen was difficult enough!

  5. That B&W approach to life exhibits itself every time we phrase things as all or nothing:

    “Everyone . . . ”
    “No one . . . ”
    “I’ll never . . . ”
    “You always do that . . . ”

    It’s not the best approach. Plus it’s easier to be WRONG in our assessments. By adding “maybe” and “some times” and “some people” to our every day vocab, we expand our Universe and its infinite possibilities!

    You ask: “Ever fall into a rut thought-wise? What did you do to climb out?”

    I have a WHOLE bag of tricks (many of which you’ve read on SLTW) . . . but sometimes I just let the rut play itself out ~> I let myself be where I am and how I am until I tire of being there. At that point, I press the button on the elevator that says “going up.”

    One “trick” is to play advocate and “cross examine” the B&W thought until it disproves itself. 😆

    • I thought of you, Nancy, the whole while I worked on this post. I was trying to imagine what you would say. I’m glad you commented, since you said it much more eloquently.

  6. Hmmmm . . . just recently, there was an action I felt took precedent over what was continuing to happen. I fussed in my mind about it for at least a month of Sundays (because it had to do with Sunday). Finally, I just gave it up. I had bigger fish to fry and my concern really wasn’t worth the angst. I just gave it up and it was really quite freeing.

    As others have said, I didn’t know color photography went that far back. Interesting. We had an engaging presenter at our garden club meeting on Monday on biomimicry. Among many things she talked about was how blue jay feathers really aren’t blue, the light is just refracted through them in such a way as they look blue.

    What an enjoyable and thought provoking post this was. Thank you.

    • I’m glad you were able to let go of something that was making you feel angst, Penny. I know that feeling well. I hope the situation resolved.

      I also didn’t know color photography went back that far. How interesting about blue jay feathers! That’s the idea with snow. Light passes through the packed crystals, making snow look white.

  7. It was black and white and shades of gray here a couple of days ago. A big gray cloud rolled in and dropped about five inches of snow–our first snow of the year. We don’t do well with snow. We have too many hills and mountains and not enough snow plows.

    Do you remember how the comics in the newspaper used to look? All the colors were made from dots. That must have been the three-color method.

    • I remember, Nicki. I have some old comic books that have the dots.😁 We’ve come a looooong way.

      I hope you guys are okay. That’s a lot of snow! Did everything shut down?

  8. I didn’t want to hijack Marian’s comment 😉 Sometimes low expectations are a good thing. Your example of going to the movies with low expectations is a good one; or you could say that you’re not really expecting the movie to be bad as much as you’re approaching it without any preconceived ideas, letting the movie surprise you, if it will. That’s really hard to do these days when the media and social media is so full of hype. Maybe what I’m thinking of is not “low expectations,” but “small expectations.” We travel to CA every so often, and we always know the least of what will make us happy and that is to see our friends. If we spend our whole trip just talking with friends in their kitchen, we’re happy. If we get to go to a museum or to the beach, that’s icing.
    I am definitely guilty of “splitting,” especially when it comes to feelings about myself or my circumstances. I believe that’s why, at almost 62, I have so little to show for my decades of writing. I either believe in myself fully or I don’t believe in myself at all, and I usually find myself in the latter split. It’s an effort to stay in the positive when it comes to self-worth and self-esteem. It should be easy, but it ain’t 😉

    • It isn’t easy, as you mentioned, Marie. Social media doesn’t make it easy, especially when you hear about the dazzling writing careers of others. I have a tendency to compare myself negatively when that happens. 😣 I’m trying to avoid doing that (though I slip up sometimes).

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