Color or B&W


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May 7, 2007
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San Francisco Bay Area
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I'd appreciate comments on which format you think is better for the shot below, color or B&W.


I like the colour...shows more life. The sky is a little weird...maybe just the resizing..
Everything I shoot is B&W and this looks muddy to my eye.

Was it a digital photo? I see alot of digital conversions that lack "pop". I don't know why digital seems to do colour quite well and does B&W so blah.

So, I'd say stick with the colour.
If there was something in the sky, I'd say B+W, but the sky is just a big gray space. If there were more interesting colors in the lights or if the white lights weren't orange/yellow, I'd say go color. I hate the color of streetlights when a picture is taken, they look that ugly yellowish orange color and it's frustrating. I'd say you could go either way on this one.
. I hate the color of streetlights when a picture is taken, they look that ugly yellowish orange color and it's frustrating.

Low Pressure Sodium Vapour...

Streetlights are low pressure sodium vapour, a type of metal halide lighting. They emit light in only a single VERY VERY narrow band of the EM spectrum, almost like a laser, but different in that it's' not a collimated beam.

Monochromatic light like this is very spooky and unnatural. (also like lasers) Which is why no one likes the type of illumination it provides, but it's also extremely energy efficient to produce lumens/watt. It's more than 20 times more efficient than incandescent and twice as efficient as fluorescent.

You know those gigantic ones you see lighting up vast portions of the freeways? They are only 180 watts. The ones you see in small parking lots, can be as little as 10 watts.

Plants hate them too though, growing very fast but very spindly underneath them. Another weird effect is that if you put yourself in a perfectly sealed room with only that as a light source, then no matter how bright it is, you wouldn't be able to differentiate any type of colour. Red, blue, green, it would all look the same.

Here's the thing though. If you took a photofilter that was opaque to light between 589.0 and 589.6 nm, that thin tall line where the LPS light is emitted, you could take completely normal night pictures, where the streetlights would be completely absent.

Come to think of it, I bet that's how they simulate a rolling blackout on movies, unless there is some other, more simple way of doing it.
I thought orange colored street lights were high pressure sodium bulbs and the whiter/blue looking ones are Metal halides. Same as are often used in security lighting or indoor growing. Im not 100% if street lights are indeed what I say but from what Ive read I really thought they were. Also plants grow fantastic under these lights, metal halides will promote strong early growth while high pressure sodiums will promote beatiful flowering. This has nothing to do with photography though.
So your basic question is "Colour or B&W"? Well, I personally like the colour photo better, I think the orange street lights stand out nicely against the blue of the sky (complementary colours), an aspect that (of course) gets all lost in the b&w version.
Also the water (by reflecting the blue of the late evening sky) is better to be recognised as such in the colour version. It could also be yet another stretch of asphalt in the b&w one.

F19 looks like a good choice :D.
Thanks for all the comments. Personally I prefer the color, but wanted to know how other people feel. I really like night photography, but I am also starting to get into B&W. So night B&W is of personal interest. I appreciate the opinions on these 2 shots.
Since the Mods are being lax, I'm going to point out that the critique forum rules specify that this section is for finished photographs only.

As for the photos themselves, the color one is marginally better. The street light starbursts in the foreground are distracting, and the image overall is flat.
Since the Mods are being lax, I'm going to point out that the critique forum rules specify that this section is for finished photographs only.

:idea:Could you please explain what is unfinished about these two images?
If you are satisfied that your image is finalized and you have done all that you can or wish to do in post-processing and want a critique on that final image, this Forum is where it belongs.

If you have an image in process, either in camera in in post processing, about which you have a specific question, post it in the Specific Technical Assistance Forum and clearly mention your question.

These are two processing incarnations of the same photo. Therefore, they are by definition a single photo that is not finished.
I prefer the color version. B&W one is a little too flat and i sense a lack of contrast.
On the other hand, i like the color contrast (orange lighting and road refrections VS blue sky).
Suggestion: i didn't like the right light had its 'glow effect' half cut.
I like both takes on this... However I feel B+W Night scenes have got to have a technical edge... Night scenes usually done to highlight the lights and colors.. or even reflections of color in sky/ water / window glass etc... so , for a B+W to pass, again, No Flaws...

Both of these for me have a artsy type Architecture feel... you are not soloing out a structure per say, but an area, and showing it in a surreal type look, ( Artsy )...

My only bone on this , is as someone already mentioned... I need a bit more room on the right, want to see the complete star burst from that light..

Nice Shots!

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