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Why are mono portraits better than colour ones?


User_Removed 17 455 13 United Kingdom
28 Oct 2009 4:53PM

Quote:a straight colour shot never seems to cut it


I can't say I look at the awards that often, but 'straight' portraiture can be of more interest to the people who not the subject (hence the market for school shots and Venture etc.).

Are we heading towards the portrait equivalent of the ePz over-saturated landscape shot formula, then ('add a layer with some "ageing" effect, or mute the colours, maybe cross process a bit'.


Quote:Been pining for a 1/2 decent photography related thread for a while and not seen one, so just trying to keep this one going


Trying to do my bit Wink
Gaucho 19 2.8k 2 United Kingdom
28 Oct 2009 5:32PM
Good thread, but can I just encourage you all to listen through miptog's Video Link. Don't pretend to follow it all but it really is fascinating stuff if you're in the slightest bit interested in art.
stix 16 924 87 United Kingdom
28 Oct 2009 5:49PM
It's Ironic that the quote from miptog on visual system recognition has no paragraphs - sorry but my visual system is telling me; boring - do not read.
Some interesting points on Mono v. colour.
Obviously there is room for both. Personally I like colour, why throw away all that information? : The lovely colour of the eyes, the beautiful chestnut hair (say), the peachy skin. The satisfaction of combining colours in the sitter and the background or clothes to get a complimentary colour palette.
I upload pictures on another site that has complete editorial control on which pictures they accept. They like arty stuff, and the portrait section is dominated by mono. Just to be different I persist in uploading colour, this means I get a lot rejected. But it also makes me have to really raise my game to get a colour shot past them. I am not relying on conversion to mono or cross processing to make my photo 'interesting' (well, one I have desaturated).
On that site I will carry on with my colour crusade, on this site, you have got me thinking Ade, perhaps I should experiment a bit more with Mono. Perhaps always have a peek at a mono version to make sure I'm not missing anything.
Martin
User_Removed 17 455 13 United Kingdom
28 Oct 2009 6:46PM

Quote:Personally I like colour ............. I persist in uploading colour


Exactly as you should. Smile (And I think your colour portraits are better than your mono - and effective.)


Quote:Perhaps always have a peek at a mono version to make sure I'm not missing anything.


There's always going to be exceptions, but generally I think it's better if when you are taking the shot you are planning for either mono or colour and working in composition, lighting, exposure etc. to get the effect you want.
stix 16 924 87 United Kingdom
28 Oct 2009 7:15PM

Quote: I think it's better if when you are taking the shot you are planning for either mono or colour.

That's an interesting point. I'm really not sure how I would plan for a mono portrait. I geuss an obvoius one is a craggy looking subject who has lots of 'texture' in the skin. I agree though that it is always more satisfying to plan a shot and then realise that plan, rather than stumbling into something good ( although that's fun too).
ade_mcfade 16 15.2k 216 England
28 Oct 2009 8:09PM
Just had a look at your portraits Martin - impressive stuff by the way - and for me, the monos do stand out...

may be that's because they're in the minority and therefore look different... who knows.

but when I scrolled through your HC/EC pane, the few monos there really jumped out at me over the colour ones too.

It's probably me.

Lighting for mono could be interesting - maybe if you're using lots of lights, you could introduce Gels to colour different parts of the shot, then in the Mono Conversion process, that'd have an effect?
Paul Morgan 19 19.5k 6 England
28 Oct 2009 8:41PM

Quote:Why are mono portraits better than colour ones?


There not, its just pretty much down to personal taste or restrictions.


Quote:what factors affect this?


The intended market play`s a big factor.


Quote:Lighting for mono could be interesting - maybe if you're using lots of lights, you could introduce Gels to colour different parts of the shot, then in the Mono Conversion process, that'd have an effect?


Not as important as the filter on the lens or the shade of gel if using multi contrast paper under an enlarger Smile

Film camera`s a side, I still think in mono at the time of taking.
Gaucho 19 2.8k 2 United Kingdom
28 Oct 2009 9:06PM

Quote:It's Ironic that the quote from miptog on visual system recognition has no paragraphs - sorry but my visual system is telling me; boring - do not read.


Your loss. Watch the video and learn Smile
EmzLou1980 12 279 Scotland
5 Nov 2009 2:25PM
I'm no pro, but I personally feel that mono is better, because imperfections such as blushing and spots ect aren't as noticable, mono seems to me as more perfect a photo esp for portraits
Gothic 11 6 Uruguay
5 Nov 2009 4:24PM
I do believe it's more interesting and effective, for sure. First of all, I think mono helps to focus your attention on the subject itself, the shapes, the details... things that otherwise in this case get lost when dealing with colours. Colours are distracting factors here I think, and b&w works as a "focus attn tool". Besides this I don't agree with the idea of mono being simpler than chromatic photography. On the contrary, colours are an easy way to express and communicate many info and this gets much more difficult to reach when you only work with a grey scale. This needs a much higher level of mastery imho.
Nick_w Plus
13 4.3k 99 England
6 Nov 2009 8:51AM

Quote:I'm no pro, but I personally feel that mono is better, because imperfections such as blushing and spots ect aren't as noticable, mono seems to me as more perfect a photo esp for portraits


Is this always true? If so I'd hate to see the colour versions of some of the mono subjects in this guys work.

I also think some of his work disproves the premis of the original question as some of the colour stuff is quite brilliant (check out the aged Adolf Hitler).
DOGSBODY 12 1.4k 30 England
9 Nov 2009 9:08AM
For me it's a matter of horses for courses. Men, I feel look better in mono especially if it is a head and shoulders portrait and young girls look better in colour although there are exceptions.

Black and white strips away many of the distractions that colour can introduce into a picture and adds a certain grittiness to a moodily lit portrait whereas colour works well where the photographer is attempting to glamourise the sitter or where colour is a deliberate part of the setting.

As I have said there are always exceptions but, for me, a good portrait must have impact and a good portrait photographer can use either colour or mono to achieve it.
NikLG 15 1.7k England
9 Nov 2009 1:02PM
I look better in mono, especially if my head's not in shot....

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