When do you make a photo black and white?

Started Jul 11, 2012 | Discussions thread
calson Veteran Member • Posts: 8,414
Re: When do you make a photo black and white?

As you surmised in part the elimination of RGB color can be detrimental to an image. When a scene has a strong graphic element(s) like the Eiffel Tower for example, then eliminating color can make the graphic elements stronger.

With B&W a different approach needs to be often taken to simplify the image and avoid visual clutter. Take again the Eiffel Tower with the park and trees around it. With color the colors of these elements contrast against the framework of the tower. With B&W these same elements are distracting and an angle or time of day is selected to eliminate them from the picture.

If you look at the pictures of people like Weegee and Imogene Cunningham and Dorothea Lange, and Stieglitz, and Walter Evans, you will see images that would not be as strong had they been shot in color.

With color it is the contrast that is often important as with a red flower against green leaves or an orange poppy with the blue sky as a background. A lot of stock photography will incorporate strong graphic elements along with strong color contrasts and you see this often with advertisements as it grabs the viewer's attention and holds it.

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