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Why Black & White?

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User_Removed
31 Jul 2010 - 6:15 PM

An introductory topic for the new Black & White group, but I hope lots of people will join in.

There have been discussions before about what Black & White brings to an image that colour doesn't, but why do you choose Black & White?

Is it a considered choice or something that takes you by surprise occasionally?

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31 Jul 2010 - 6:15 PM

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meercat
meercat  5278 forum posts United Kingdom
31 Jul 2010 - 6:20 PM

I usually have the idea in my head that the image will be in black and white, sometimes I'm wrong and it just doesn't work (I find birds never quite look right in B+W), sometimes I'll convert to see what it would be like and am pleased, but mostly I know in advance.

I like people in black and white because it seems to give more realism to the image (I know this sounds contradictory), but you see into the persons personality more if you are not distracted by the colour around them (well that is my thoughts anyway).

CaptivePhotons
CaptivePhotons e2 Member 111515 forum postsCaptivePhotons vcard England2 Constructive Critique Points
31 Jul 2010 - 6:21 PM


Quote: but why do you choose Black & White?

Colour blind Tongue

KathyW
KathyW  101793 forum posts Norfolk Island12 Constructive Critique Points
31 Jul 2010 - 6:23 PM

I've usually got the shot earmarked for a B&W conversion at the time of taking it.
It rarely takes me by surprise to find I prefer a B&W version of a pic, but occasionally I find it's possible to salvage something from a not-too-good image... like if I can't get the colour version looking just how I want it, but I like the composition or subject. Wink

ge22y
ge22y  6115 forum posts Wales12 Constructive Critique Points
31 Jul 2010 - 6:26 PM

I prefer people in B&W as well, I think it adds a lot to their character. I used to have my own darkroom as a teenager and could only afford to process B&W so I think my preference to B&W goes back to those days as well.

As for taking a shot I don't usually go out to shoot either in colour or B&W, I'll process two versions and see which looks the best.

Last Modified By ge22y at 31 Jul 2010 - 6:28 PM
User_Removed
31 Jul 2010 - 7:23 PM


Quote: I used to have my own darkroom as a teenager and could only afford to process B&W so I think my preference to B&W goes back to those days as well.

I wondered if there is a generational element sometimes - the generation for whom Black & White was the norm. I wonder whether those that were brought up in a colour world see something different in a Black & White shot? (What do teenagers do in dark rooms nowadays - I don't suppose things have changed that much? Tongue)


Quote: I've usually got the shot earmarked for a B&W conversion at the time of taking it.


Quote: I don't usually go out to shoot either in colour or B&W

I often, at the moment mostly, go out intending to take only Black& White - a bit like choosing to load B&W film in the past. I find I look at things differently that way. That's not to say that I won't sometimes come away with colour shot - digital gives the flexibility that you used to have to have two camera bodies for and I don't want to be obsessive about it. Tongue


Quote: Colour blind Tongue

Does someone need to start a group for the colour blind photographer - or is this it? Wink

User_Removed
31 Jul 2010 - 7:34 PM


Quote: I like people in black and white because it seems to give more realism to the image

I didn't used to take people very often, but since I've been taking photographs for the local Gilbert & Sullivan Society I've had to learn. The members tend to want colour, but I can't resist the temptation to go B&W.

paul.jpg

I think it really shows the character a lot more - this gentleman is one of my favourites. He really knows how to bring out the humour in a song and overacts brilliantly.

The other advantage is that working in places with messy and unpredictable backgrounds taking out the colour can help to take out distractions. Also, having to use high ISO putting grain in can help overcome the effects of noise reduction.

KenTaylor
KenTaylor e2 Member 92971 forum postsKenTaylor vcard United Kingdom2 Constructive Critique Points
31 Jul 2010 - 7:42 PM

I am from the old school doing B&W but emain faithfull to it in digital.

Producing a B&W shot should be previsualised. It is so different from colour where it is the colour that makes the picture work, in B&W you have the formal elements, the shape and testure with some idea of the zone system.

The best bit of software for me is Lightroom which is what I have been yearning for since going digutal. You can in an instant darken or lighten the channels so easily.

I must say I was surprised that Paterson have brought out a new enlarger for the darkroom, the old techniques dont die easily.

User_Removed
31 Jul 2010 - 10:10 PM


Quote: Producing a B&W shot should be previsualised.

I think, for me at least, this is preferable, although you do see shots in the gallery that started out as colour and didn't work until they were converted to B&W (this is from memory and I can't point to an example). May be what they saw in the shot originally were the elements that are diluted by colour.

I have not tried Lightroom - and I think there may be another thread in how people manage their conversions.

KenTaylor
KenTaylor e2 Member 92971 forum postsKenTaylor vcard United Kingdom2 Constructive Critique Points
1 Aug 2010 - 12:13 AM

I should have said the previsualisation is more important with B&W

The sensation of colour glamorises the subject hence the little attention B&W gets on here

for B&W have a look at this site

Just Jas
Just Jas  1225727 forum posts England1 Constructive Critique Points
1 Aug 2010 - 12:27 AM


Quote: I wondered if there is a generational element sometimes - the generation for whom Black & White was the norm

Well, I would probably plead guilty to this.

After using B&W for the early part of my life I had to learn to 'see' (photographically) in colour.

I think that the B&W photo gives an emphasis to certain pictures that that colour version doesn't. Particularly pictures which have, in themselves, very little colour variation.

Imagine the sooted and begrimed fireman of a British Railways loco shovelling coal into the fire box for example.

Sandgrouse
1 Aug 2010 - 12:33 AM


Quote: why do you choose Black & White?

Because a good B&W will nearly always be stronger than a good colour image.


Quote: Is it a considered choice or something that takes you by surprise occasionally?

I generally know if I'm going to process as a B&W or colour when taking the photo, however I was surprised recently with a field of poppies that I really liked when processed as a B&W shot.

User_Removed
1 Aug 2010 - 8:23 AM


Quote: The sensation of colour glamorises the subject hence the little attention B&W gets on here

Interesting perspective - others might suggest that colour is more realistic, or gives a better representation of a subject.

I think that B&W extracts key elements from the subject - is more abstract if you like - and can create a stronger impression, however whether


Quote: a good B&W will nearly always be stronger than a good colour image.

is another matter entirely! If photographers generally believed this B&W would surely be a lot more popular.

A Black & White photograph can demand a little more from the viewer as well as the photographer?

Last Modified By User_Removed at 1 Aug 2010 - 8:23 AM
User_Removed
1 Aug 2010 - 9:09 AM

Good link, Ken. I think an ongoing links for Black & White thread may be interesting, so I'll start one in the Black and White group.

akh
akh e2 Member 101142 forum postsakh vcard United Kingdom5 Constructive Critique Points
1 Aug 2010 - 9:51 AM


Quote: I wondered if there is a generational element sometimes - the generation for whom Black & White was the norm

I would go along with this. When I first got interested in photography as a boy B/W film was much easier to obtain and so was used by everyone. Later in life I still used B/W as it was cheaper to process and print. Also just having B/W television in those days meant that we got used to visualising scenes as shades of grey. These days I tend to use B/W when wanting to emphasise shapes and textures in a subject.

Another interesting site.
Tony

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