Sunday, June 3, 2012

Color or Black & White?

Should you keep your photographs color or should you convert them to black-and-white? It might not seem like an important question, but it's actually a very important question that should be asked with each image.
Broken Fence - Ilmon, California
I take that back. You should ask yourself this before even opening the shutter. Before creating the photograph you should know if you want it to be color or black-and-white.
Star Spangled Banner - Tehachapi, California
How do you know which it should be?
Quick Train - Tehachapi, California
In the days of film, you either loaded the camera with color or black-and-white film, and what film you had in the camera was the deciding factor. If it was time to load a new roll, you could decide which to use (assuming you had a roll of both color and monochrome with you), but aside from that, what was in the camera determined if your image would be color or not.

Twisted Tree - Goodyear, Arizona
It's completely different in the digital age. You photograph in color (with the exception of the Leica M Monochrom), and either keep the image in color or convert it to black-and-white.
Steadfast Movement - Mojave, California
If color is an important element in the image, it should be kept in color. What you are looking for is color contrast or situations where the color is especially striking, vibrant or beautiful. The color should convey some thought or feeling.
Yellow And Blue - Tehachapi, California
Should you not know, color contrasts are colors that are on (or near) opposite ends of a color wheel. Contrasting colors grab your attention when placed against each other. Blue and yellow or green and red are common examples of color contrast.
Dandelion Sunset - Stallion Springs, California
You'll have to decide what "striking, vibrant or beautiful" color means to you. If the color of the scene you are photographing doesn't stand out while you are there, it won't stand out in a photograph.
Wheat Grass - Tehachapi, California
If color is important to the photograph, make it the central theme of the image. Make it obvious, make it stand out, make it the subject.
Late Afternoon Mow - Tehachapi, California
If color is not an essential element of a photograph, it should be black-and-white. Photographs that are black-and-white have a fine-art quality. They are timeless, dramatic and mysterious. Sometimes a photograph will look bland in color, but fantastic in monochrome.
Three Trees - Tehachapi, California
Design--light, shadow, lines, shapes, shades, etc.--become much more important in black-and-white. To make a successful black-and-white image you have to think about the scene differently--you have to think less about the subject and more about the design.
3 - Stallion Springs, California
To summarize as simply as possible: if color is important then keep the image in color, and if color is not important then convert it to black-and-white.
The Road Home - Tehachapi, California

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