Saturday, February 22, 2014

B&W vs Colour

I have had fellow photographers and enthusiasts ask, "for any image, how do you decide whether to render it in black and white or colour?".  The answer isn't always clear;  it's not black and white as they say!  Sometimes its subject matter and how I feel about the subject.  I will ask myself which better portrays the feeling of the moment.  Does colour add to the image?  Does it help tell a story or in the case of a portrait, does it help portray who a person is? And other times, it's more about lighting.  Soft, low contrast lighting tends to work better for colour images .. especially portraits whereas high contrast tends to work better for black and white.  It's always on a case by case basis but here's a few examples of black and white vs. colour, where each works very well for the respective shots, and the inverse would not.

For portraits where there is a lot of play in lighting, I generally prefer a black and white rendering.  Where there's soft even lighting, I generally find that colour will work better.  Of course with any of this, it's in the eye of the beholder.

Very directed lighting in this shot with a lot of fall off; high contrast.  Shot with window light, Leica M9 w/50 Summilux

And this shot, with incandescent lighting.  Very soft, low contrast front lighting.  Nikon D800E w/Nikkor 85 1.4G

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