Tell me, why black & white?

Started Apr 28, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Re: Tell me, why black & white?
In reply to sync frame, Apr 30, 2012

sync frame wrote:

Black and white photography has different things going for it different contexts and genres. It can be used for the reason to which you allude, namely that in some cases monochrome conversion can rescue a photograph that went wrong in colour. That's not the principal reason for shooting in black and white, however.

Black and white photography emphasises the relations between lightness and darkness in a photography, and in many circumstances helps to put one's perceptual attention on the shapes and forms in an image. Often what is interesting in a particular image or scene are the shapes and the forms, as well as the tonal contrasts. Colour can be distracting when form and light are at the centre of the image's appeal.

This is just a matter of taste, but I generally avoid colour photographs unless there is something interesting about the colours. I mostly like black and white portraits, unless it is the combination of hair and skin colour, or strikingly coloured eyes, that stand out most.

I've attached the original and a monochrome conversion of a tree. The colours aren't interesting, but the tree is. Taking away the colour and emphasising the branches and twigs makes for a more powerful image.



Mark9473 wrote:

Just curious, as when I see a B&W image I always think "what would the colour version be like?".

when looking at a color photo do you ever ask " what would it look like without the black & white (grayscale) component?" (see immediately below for example)

the answer would be undecipherable ? uninteresting ? probably both !

The black and white component of color photography and most art that attempts to portray some aspect of realism is built upon the grayscale tonal background.

Do people use B&W when something in the colour image just doesn't work, or what is the reason?

Some do, but that oftentimes is an ineffective excuse to cover up bad photography.

I've tried converting a very few of my own images to B&W and usually I don't prefer it over the original.

If your color files are top rate then so should be your B&W interpretations.

If you're really interested you should probably improve your technique at converting to grayscale.

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