Saturday, February 27, 2010

Color or Black & White?

The most recent Develop on Friday assignment is to take a photograph and then simplify it, either through composition or color (or both). I've gotten pretty good at decreasing clutter to take a simple shot, but I had not thought much about color.  So, this post focuses on choosing between color or black and white. Here's an example:
I started with this photo:
And changed it to black and white to improve it because the orange light was unbearably distracting. Also,  No. 32 blended too much into the background wall and didn't stand out:
Interestingly, I think the following photo works better with the orange light than in black and white; the players aren't lost quite as much as in the prior photo and the color seems to add to the excitement:

I have a tougher time deciding on portraits in color or black and white.  My kids have such gorgeous skin tone that I tend to like them in color:
But here is one that I think works better in black and white because it does cut out some of the different colors in the deck and the grate.  I've found that light is much more critical for black and white as well:

Do you print black and white often?  Is it to simplify or just to cover mistakes?  I really like this lesson because I never really thought before about why some pictures work better in black and white.


Lizzie said...

Black and white photography is all about lighting and composition. You can't hide behind the bright colours etc, so to get a great photo, you must have the basics right.
Having said that, the first shot that you changed to b&W did look better.
I tend to use the option to remove color cast, that is on PS. It's quite good - normally - so long as you can find a good white, black or grey bit to reference from.
My niece has been taking B&W photos of her little girl. They are stunning... amazing. I am so full of admiration for her talent.

Deb @ PaperTurtle said...

Fun to see your shots in different tones. I love the last one of your handsome son in black and white!

humel said...

I mostly go with colour, but if the colours don't work - clashing, bright, or whatever - I change to black and white. Sometimes, too, I change pics of my children to black and white 'just to see' - and often they look fantastic that way!

I agree with all your comments/decisions above re colour vs black and white in those particular photos :-)

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I experiment with mine. If I can't get it to look 'right' in color I will try various B&W or sepia looks to see if it gets better. I often use B&W photos when scrapping because the multitude of colors in the photo clash together or with the kit I am using.

Nellie Mae said...

Very cool discussion on black and white vs. color. I tend to do a little of both in a series of photos. It is so nice to have digital--options are limitless! Your son is so handsome!

Sian said...

Those are really interesting examples Rinda; and I agree with the choices you made. I very rarely change to black and white, I think because I like to remember everything includong the colours. I do love it when I see other scrappers using a beautiful black and white photo

scrappyjacky said...

I mainly use colour...but sometimes change to black and white [or sepia] because of clashing colours in the photos....or because I want to use certain colours on the scrapbook page.
My brother who's a photographer frequently uses black and white and his photos are usually stunning.

Elizabeth said...

I grew up taking black and white photos so they always seem better to me, and then learning how to develop them. Most of the photos handed down to me are aged to a sepia tone. I think color has its place in scrapbooking but black and white should not be neglected.

Amy said...

I go through stages where I like to convert everything to black and white and I do find it hard to get portraits right as well. I have been keeping my shots in colour lately as, like Sian, I like the fact that it seems a truer representation of our life and what people look like.

Your boy is an exceedingly handsome young man and either photograph is lovely.

Anonymous said...

I tend to forget to try black and white, but one of my best photos was one I changed to black and white to frame. The first photo really is improved by the change. I like both photos of your son. What a handsome young man!

Sonja said...

Very interesting to think about why each works better and in which circumstances. I haven't done anything with black & white for a long time. Will have to play with it a bit now. Thanks for the thought-provoking inspiration.

Melissa said...

I think you're right with your choices of B+W versus colour for your photos. I usually leave most photos in colour but will occasionally change and I often just have a look at a special shot in B+W. They definately need better lighting and good contrast in tones otherwise it can be too much the same.