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May 14, 2019
"Shortly after photography’s monochromatic inception in the early 1800s, enthusiasts began experimenting with color photography. Once color film reached the masses, many photographers eschewed the new development and remained loyal to the black and white image.Now, though color photography is clearly the standard in the modern world, photographers still face the dilemma of deciding whether to present their images in color or black and white."
I don't see it as a dilemma, rather, it is one additional element to consider in the creation of an image. Do I want to use Color or Black & White for the image I am creating.
The article goes on to say:
"A photograph’s impact on a viewer can be aided or hindered by the choice of using black and white versus color. Making a deliberate decision about color requires a critical eye. Think about the benefits of color and the benefits of black and white before deciding which works best for each of your images."
I do go through this process and it most enjoyable as well as demanding. One needs to slow done and really look at the scene, then see it in your mind's eye as you want it to render. In a post by Adam Welch ( Digital Photography School ) he says ...
“#1 Does color have a large impact on the image?This may seem like an easy judgment to make, but it is not always so simple. Color can be a fickle thing, and can either add to, or unintentionally detract interest from a photograph. Ask yourself, “does this image rely exclusively on color or are there other interesting aspects that can be emphasized?”
These are things that I run through my mind and mull over as I take in the scene before me and are parts of decision making process. Welch goes on further to comment ..
“When you remove color from the photographic equation, you are left with only differences in tone; lights and darks. These differences are what truly make good black and white images, and the differences in light and shadow bring contrast to the photograph. ...The great Ansel Adam’s said that he; “could convey a greater sense of color with well executed black and white images using only light, shadow, and even subtleties in texture to express the qualities of the photo”.
The decision making process and contemplation continues with questioning – what mood , what feeling do I want the image to create for the viewer – somber, joyful, bleak, upbeat, energetic, warm , daunting, etc. Now , which format – color or Black & White – will best deliver the mood/feeling/story I want the image to convey. It's not a check list per se , but a constant internal dialogue before the Camera set up is prepared and the shutter pressed.
When to Shoot in Color, Less Color and No Color
A. Color contains information related to the story
B. Color creates element separation
C. Color creates distraction or disharmony
1. Keep Image in Full Color if A=YES
While I appreciate the precise and logical process Chee lays out , I find there is a more emotional and “Seeing/Feeling” input as I work through the question – Color or Black & White for this image. ( And, in the digital era we are afforded the luxury of going back and forth between the two at anytime , either in camera , or in Post Processing – not so in the days of film. And I certainly am thankful for that flexibility .) This is not to say his “process” isn't a valuable tool – but for me it is as much more an emotional engagement and feeling as it is A+B = C. To each his own .
In yet another post in an online magazine ( Envatotus+ ) Amy Touchette comments this way about the Color vs. Black & White question:
Amy concluded her article this way:
Conclusion: - In the end, the choice of whether to photograph a subject in color or black-and-white is a personal one: it depends on what we want to impart to viewers and where we want their focus to be directed. Each palette has strengths and weaknesses that can be exploited with great success. But in order to carve out our own unique vision, it’s essential to understand how chromatic and monochromatic palettes affect what we see and feel.
And that is how I come to shoot a scene in either Color or Black and White – it is my mind's eye ( that word vision) , my emotional connection and reaction to the scene that ultimately dictates whether I shoot it in Black & White or Color.
Ultimately though it is you , the viewer that mandates Black & White or Color because in creating an image I want to engage you - your emotions,feelings and thoughts by interacting with the image and what it conveys to you.
The 4 images placed in this post are the result of what I saw in my mind's eye, what emotions were stirred – what reaction I gathered – and there is BOTH a Color and a Black & White version, from the same scene , just at different moments while I worked at capturing the wonders before me.
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