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Why Black & White?


mohikan22 10 2.2k 1 United Kingdom
1 Aug 2010 9:59AM
I think B/W makes for a better shot with people. Seems to add more depth and conrast to faces and clothing. which stands out well if you have a plain background.... like THIS one. the colour version just doesnt "feel" right or look right.

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User_Removed 11 455 13 United Kingdom
1 Aug 2010 10:10AM
Another interesting link akh, thanks. I've started a thread for links in the Black & White Group, so I'll copy it over to that as well.

A good example mohikan22. I think this effect is helped by the human tendency to focus on faces - or to create them out of basic shapes, such as in rock formations or tree trunks (pareidolia).
User_Removed 11 455 13 United Kingdom
1 Aug 2010 10:28AM

Quote:I tend to use B/W when wanting to emphasise shapes and textures in a subject


As an example I've uploaded this shot to my portfolio (I'm not sure where to upload - the thread, the group or my portfolio - but the portfolio needs filling at the moment).

It's a very cluttered shot, but think the incongruity of the main focus still stands out. Put the colour back and the main subject becomes the big orange gas cylinder and the red generator - you've also got coloured balloons in the background, a big yellow sun shape and people in bright clothes.

The Black & White rebalances the picture. I think the people and balloons still add atmosphere, but they don't dominate.

I like the reflective effect of the silvered door as well, which works better in B&W.
1 Aug 2010 12:03PM

Quote:Also just having B/W television in those days meant that we got used to visualising scenes as shades of grey.


I still prefer to watch some of the old films on tele which are B&W.

When I was a young boy only B&W was available.
User_Removed 11 455 13 United Kingdom
1 Aug 2010 8:35PM
There are still films I see, like North by Northwest, that surprise me by being in colour nowadays.

Not many people would choose a Black and White TV now, but we still find it evocative in some photography.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
1 Aug 2010 8:39PM
There`s still the odd film made in Black and White, who`s seen the The Good German
User_Removed 11 455 13 United Kingdom
1 Aug 2010 9:09PM
I haven't, but it looks interesting. I wonder what the motivation for film makers is to choose B&W? Is it something about giving it a feel contemporary to the story or about the visual effect and atmosphere it can create?
KenTaylor e2
10 3.0k 2 United Kingdom
1 Aug 2010 10:04PM
With old films its worth trying to find a copy of `Night Mail` made by the old GPO with verse by W. H. Auden.
A true classc for documentary where the camera man knew all about lighting. Only 24 min but every second counted.
KenTaylor e2
10 3.0k 2 United Kingdom
1 Aug 2010 10:05PM

Quote:I haven't, but it looks interesting. I wonder what the motivation for film makers is to choose B&W? Is it something about giving it a feel contemporary to the story or about the visual effect and atmosphere it can create?

Very much the latter
User_Removed 11 455 13 United Kingdom
1 Aug 2010 10:43PM
When I taught English we used to use 'Night Mail' regularly alongside the poem. It really is very atmospheric - although the whole process is rather redundant nowadays so has less impact. In terms of the film work it is superb and is, as you say, a true classic.

I have though, used Black & White films, such as the David Lean Dickens films, Great Expectations and Oliver Twist, in school and got a completely baffled reaction to them being Black & White. Generally though, once they get started the lack of colour is forgotten and the incredible story telling and atmosphere takes over. The opening scene of Great Expectations over the marshes is an incredible piece of photography.

The beginning is here and the trailer here .


Quote:Very much the latter


I would expect, and hope, this is the case. It would probably fail if not.
pascalg e2
7 37 France
2 Aug 2010 10:22AM
hello,

reading this thread reminds me of something I read in a book about black & white : in the early days of colour films, the reproach made about colour was the loss of "reality" !
I take advantage of this message to quickly introduce myself : almost new to bw, I'm learning different methods of conversion (including Lightroom, PS...)
cheers

pascal.
User_Removed 11 455 13 United Kingdom
2 Aug 2010 12:12PM

Quote:in the early days of colour films, the reproach made about colour was the loss of "reality" !


A good point - perhaps we need to link to the 'Reality?' Group. Wink I think what is important is that we know what we want to get out of it.


Quote:I'm learning different methods of conversion


I think approaches to the process in digital will make an interesting thread at some point.
ade_mcfade e2
10 14.8k 216 England
2 Aug 2010 12:27PM
Black and white gives a totally different feel than colour. Black and white cuts to the chase - you see the person, the landscape, the architecture or whatever straight away. With colour, it''s another layer of obfuscation, you see the colour first and may may mask the subject behind the colour.

Conversely, you get scenes where the colour IS the subject - typical landscape at sunset shots would probably not look to impressive in mono, or you'd have to work harder to get it than with colour anyway.

More and more I'm using mono for architecture and portraits - one reason is HDR can cause weird colours to appear, so mono is a way to hide that Wink. Also it gives a more timeless feel to some scenes. It can bring out details in a face if you use blue filters, or make faces soft if you use red...
User_Removed 11 455 13 United Kingdom
2 Aug 2010 12:53PM

Quote:With colour, it''s another layer of obfuscation


Neatly put. Smile

On HDR, it's something I have spent a little time on but need to spend more on to get the best out of it in B&W. I can see it being useful, and certainly your portfolio has some excellent examples.

I do find that most of the time I can get what I want out of the tonal range with raw processing a Silver Efex to work on key areas.

I think filters are another key area, and it's probably cheaper doing it digitally, and they don't get scratched. Tongue
pascalg e2
7 37 France
2 Aug 2010 1:29PM

Quote: typical landscape at sunset shots would probably not look to impressive in mono


I've tried : hardly any comment on bw / comments on colour (even not saturated in PP -eg Velvia...)
the problem becomes : what to do with the blacks? try to find some "architecture" as you mentioned, or a play with light / shadows
I'm uploading an example...

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