Friday, June 27, 2014

Photography Thoughts: Black & White or Color?

I'm a firm believer that you need photographic vision in order to create successful images. As a part of photographic vision, it is important for me to see in my mind's eye the finished photograph before it is even captured. This means knowing if the image will be black-and-white or color.

Recently I photographed an abandoned house, and twice I knew how I wanted an image to look, but changed my mind later.
Hitching Post & House - Mojave, California
Ilford Delta 100 version.
Hitching Post & House - Mojave, California
Kodak Ektachrome 100VS version.
When I captured Hitching Post & House I wanted a black-and-white photograph. That's how I envisioned the final image. But, for the sake of a blog post, I made a color version (five color versions, in fact). And I really liked the color image that you see above.

I originally wanted the photograph to be black-and-white because I did not think that color was important to it. Monochrome tends to be more dramatic and have a fine-art quality. It seemed like the obvious choice. But the color version brings out the desert. You really feel that this is a hot, dry, lonely place. While I like both versions, I think that the color image is slightly stronger.
Brake Design Monochrome - Mojave, California
Brake Design Color - Mojave, California
I envisioned Brake Design as a color photograph. I liked the reds, oranges and blues on the circle. It reminded me of the colors from a soft sunset. But for the heck of it I made a black-and-white version. That monochrome version is more dramatic, emphasizing the design of the wheel and minimizing the background distractions. It's simply a stronger photograph.

Vision is incredibly important to photography, but it is also subject to change. Always be open to refining the vision. Look for ways to create a better photograph. In the case of the photographs above, it meant rethinking how I wanted them to look. It meant choosing color when I originally thought black-and-white, and choosing black-and-white when I originally thought color.

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