Would color add anything to these photos.

Discussion in 'The Black & White Gallery' started by Grandpa Ron, Aug 15, 2019.

  1. Grandpa Ron

    Grandpa Ron No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I was viewing some of my color photos and wondering what does color add to the picture?

    I know that if you place a black and white photo next to the same photo in color, the most folks would say the color photo was better. But, is it really better or is it just more in line with what they are used to seeing.

    I will admit that I like the color of oil on canvas paintings, but photographs seem a bit different. Sure color is a big part of rainbow, peacock tail or sunset photos, they are intended to show colors. But is the same true of more common place photos?

    Perhaps my fondness for black and white is clouding my viewpoint; but I think when most folks view a black and white photo their brain compensates for the lack of color.

    So the question is, would the bird and squirrel photos below, be any more pleasing in color?

    By the way, it is not a test, just asking for opinions. :)


    black bird.jpg

    furry raider bw.jpg


     
  2. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Hmm, yes personal feelings ... I too am fond of B&W images, but it can depend on the subjects.
    I think in this case I would probably choose the colour image.
    The bird may be stronger image when it's colours and the background make it stronger ... same for the squirrel.
    Then again, using monochrome can also do the same.
    In your first image the bird is just a black blob. If I was printing this on B&W paper I would dodge the bird to lighten it up.
    The second, I would use higher contrast paper and burn the feeder a bit, as the tone is too close to the squirrel.
     
  3. Jeff15

    Jeff15 TPF junkie!

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    Colour for me......
     
  4. limr

    limr Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I would like to see the color version to say definitively, but I suspect the color would work better.

    And I say this as someone who generally defaults to black and white. But part of the reason I do is not just black and white for its own sake, but because I am drawn to the kinds of images that black and white would enhance: images that are about lines, patterns, shapes, shading.

    These pictures don't seem to be about those things, so there is no obvious reason to make them black and white.
     
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  5. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    As is so often the case limr's response is filled with wisdom. I too agree that the photographs that are built on lines shapes and textures are very often the types of photographs that look the best in black-and-white.

    I personally believe that the two photographs that you show here would look slightly better to tremendously better if they had been presented in full color.

    The ability to make a photograph in both full color and in black-and-white with one click of the shutter is one of the big strengths of digital photography. Of course a person can shoot color film and make a black-and-white print, but this is more difficult and many times it is more costly these days to make black-and-white prints from color film originals than it is to print in full color.

    Today's modern post processing techniques allow you to shoot very good color images and also to make very good black and white conversions when using a digital camera.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019
  6. Original katomi

    Original katomi No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    For me it would depend on the photo, some shots are timeless and look brill in B&w others like my uv work just do not work in b&w
     
  7. Grandpa Ron

    Grandpa Ron No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Interesting, I have no doubt that if I posted the color photo next to the black and white, people would select it hand down. It is just the way we are wired.

    I must admit that post processing, both film and digital, can do wonders for both black and white and color photos. Yet I have recently seen a few of Ansel Adams color photos and they were in my opinion just another photograph.

    Still I find the reasons folks are attracted to b&w very informative .
     
  8. baturn

    baturn TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I think about B&W vs colour all the time and invariably choose colour. My reasoning is that nature is presented to us in living colour and we were given excellent colour vision so we could enjoy it.
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I have heard the same thing about Ansel Adams and his color photographs in comparison to his black and white work… Pretty much everybody who has seen his Color work has remarked that it is shall we say , uninspired.

    Some subjects really lend themselves to black and white, while other subjects desperately cry out for color.

    Sometimes having color in the picture gets in the way of the content, and removing the color makes the photo much stronger.
     
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  10. Grandpa Ron

    Grandpa Ron No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I suppose it also depends on how each person defines a good black and white photo. I look at a B&W photo contest picture the same way I do an old a series of historic photographs. For me it is the content over presentation.

    If the subject holds my interest, it is far more important than its degree of technical perfection and color. Being able to examine the pictured objects in a hunting lodge photo or a riverside fishing camp is like opening a treasure chest.

    As already mentioned, the exceptions are the obvious subjects like flowers, sunsets etc. where color is a key element.
     
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  11. johnfreed0

    johnfreed0 TPF Noob!

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    The question of BW vs color has recently (18 months) returned to haunt me since I started using digital equipment seriously. I was in Mexico City and went through the National Museum of Anthropology (if you get to CDM don't miss this!) and took a number (200+) photos of the artifacts etc. In post processing I found that the color versions of the stele were muddy and lacked definition. I switched to BW and the detailed popped out. This highlighted something that I had noticed previously: BW conveys more information is subtle gradations than color. If I need more texture from the shot, I look at BW.

    A couple of years back I experimented with shooting flowers in BW(silver). The colors rendered as shades of grey gave a texture not seen in color. I've done the same thing with sunsets to cover both subjects mentioned. The BW versions were different than the color. The emphasis of form and texture gave a different photograph than one that emphasized the colors. It all depends upon what you want from the shot. Color and BW are just tools in the kit. With digital, it nice to have the option on every shot you take but I still shoot silver. Again, another tool.
     
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  12. Grandpa Ron

    Grandpa Ron No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    John, your observations are correct but the fact is most folks like color. It is also true that most folks like "perfect", which is why post processing has become so popular. There is nothing wrong with this, indeed it takes a lot of skill to produce the perfect pictures that people have grown to expect.

    Since I am more intrigued by content, it does not bother me to see the gravel streak in an otherwise pristine iceberg, or the tree branch that hides part of an owl etc. That is how it appeared in real time. Except for documentary or scientific photos, "as shot" is often looked at as amateurish or snapshot photography.

    Whether color or black and white, since the camera cannot convey what the mind sees; cropping, adjusting exposure, contrast and hue, dodging, burning and filtering are used to bring the image closer to what the photographer wants to convey. These enhancing techniques are as old a photography itself. The digital format just makes it a lot easier. How much post processing depends on the wants of the individual.
     

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