Black. Colour

February 18, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Some time back, I was reading an article in which the photographer mentioned that sometimes black & white work is easier because removing the colour is akin to removing all the distractions.

While indeed you do remove the 'distractions' of colour, I definitely disagree with the statement that it becomes easier. 

In my view, it just becomes different. 

Colour adds its own mood to a photograph, and you can decide whether you want an image that is warm, cool, vibrant (with brightly contrasting colours), soft (with a more monochromatic feel). 

With black & white, you are playing with black, white and shades of grey. When there is very little tonal contrast, then the picture just seems very busy, with no defining element or subject. 

I would like you to look at the two images below. I shot this image in McLeodGanj. You may call it a click-through kind of image

A view of McleodGanj in colourMcLeodGanjIn colour A view of McleodGanj in colourMcLeodGanjIn colour I have not edited the colour image. 

Anyway, what are the main differences between the two of them, apart from the fact that one is in colour and one is in black & white?

In the colour, you will see a range of colours, from blue to green, yellow-green and shades of brown. Even though the luminosity ranges are similar, the range of colours keeps your eyes moving around before they settle on the buildings shining in the morning sun. 

In the black and white image, by contrast, the limited range of tonalites does have a kind of flattening effect on the image. It was a very difficult edit, trying to ensure that the buildings were not lost in a mass of grey. 

I did succeed to some extent, but not to the point where I would say that I am happy with the image. I may come back to it a few days/weeks/months/years from now, and approach it completely differently. 

Who knows?

My point here is not that black & white is easier than colour or, that colour is easier than black & white. They are different. 

When you want to work in colour, you will work differently from the way you will work in black & white. 

While the rules of composition don't change, you will look at colours, shades and tones when you are shooting with a colour image in mind. 

You will look at deep shadows, tones, shades of grey when you shoot in black & white.

Your eyes will change. 

 


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