Several Full Color Pictures With Hardly Any Color In Them
Robert McCann has been working on a project that I find intriguing from and artists standpoint. His full colour images with hardly any colour series challenges the common perception of a colour image and has a huge scope for the future. I anjoy the subtleties of this set, I hope you do too.

Several Full Color Pictures With Hardly Any Color In Them
Robert McCann

I came to photography many years ago from painting, drawing and etching. And one of the big adjustments one made when making photographs in the days before inkjet printing was surface. The first color prints I made were on Glossy fiber-based paper, that classic surface everyone who shoots in B&W desires. And I’ll admit it is a surface that even the nicest inkjet papers still can’t match. Over the years since fiber-based color papers went away I found most color printing just lacked a certain something. Glossy, semi-matte. Maybe metallic glossy. Ugh. Having seen what color prints could be there was always something of a let-down when I printed color.

Working as a stock photographer for many years, I made lots of 35mm color slides, but shot strictly B&W for my personal work, usually with an 8×10 camera. When digital came along the whole stock photography world changed. Certainly for the better if one is a designer, but certainly for the worse if one is a photographer. I was lucky to start teaching photography just as this transition began, and teaching analog photography put a 35mm camera in my hand demonstrating how to load a camera with Tri-X or HP5+. And so I started shooting 35mm in my personal work, returning to where I’d begun, walking around with a camera. This evolved into a project called Round Trip Ticket, and a couple of books. The second one was color images, and it was during this project that I began to notice something about the black in color photographs.

The color images in Round Trip were initially printed in the darkroom. Having begun making color negatives I relearned how to C-print, using some of the low-temperature chemistry available. Working with a view camera gets one very comfortable working in the total darkness of their darkroom, this helped. I’d made several images where there was a lot of black in the frame, one in particular, a semi-truck without a trailer really struck me for the quality of the color of the black. I had several similar images shot on B&W film and the difference in the black was striking.

It was soon after this that the materials for C-printing that I was using began to get hard to get. The paper would be out of stock when I had chemistry, then when the paper came in the chemistry would have expired. Having become hooked on color I decided to make the change to digital for my color work. I have to say I have not looked back. Shooting with the M8 and now the M9 has opened up a level of control over color that I had longed for in the darkroom. It is almost too easy now. But it is the possibilities for papers that inkjet printing has opened up is something I really love. Surfaces never imagined in the darkroom are now mine. I’m particularly fond of the Epson Hot Press, and the Ilford Smooth Lustre. And it is in Inkjet prints that this difference in the color of black really became appealing to me, as the richness of the black became an order of magnitude deeper.

This past winter the gallery at the college where I teach had a cancellation, and the director asked me if I might want to fill in that slot. I said yes, and as I began looking through the pdf ‘proofsheets’ of my color work I began to see how often I had been making B&W images in color. The possibilities for a show around this quickly came together, and since then I’ve been continuing this project; I’ll admit it is continuing without my even trying.

My main site is

I have a new more image only site at

Thanks for sharing your work with us Robert, it is interesting to see how it has developed and become more focussed. I am interested to see how this project will turn out in the future.