Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Colour or black and white?

The pros and cons of pictures in colour versus black and white is a popular theme for discussions among amateur photographers. Some seem to think that if you just remove the colours you get a picture with more "feeling" or that removing colours from an ordinary drab photo "will save it". In my humble opinion you need to have that option in mind when you take the picture. Black and white enhances the structures in the photo, so you have to have some structure there from the beginning. Here are three examples of the same subject in both colour and black and white. The subject is a bench beneath a balustrade in the Botanical Garden at the University of Bergen. The pictures were taken last Sunday and were shot from different angles and distances. To me they work in both modes since there are lot of structures an colours, but they might convey different atmospheres. Comments are very welcome - that's the way I learn.






37 comments:

imac said...

Hi Rune.
My first thoughts were,

1) = both choices
2) = B?w
3) = colour

but they are all great and very eye catching.

Anemone said...

Du er så flink at jeg sitter her i Trøndalag å måper, og jeg?? jeg måper i sort/hvitt .-)

Petunia said...

Det spørs tilbehøret spør du meg.
Enkeltvis synes jeg bildene er finest i farger, men satt sammen for eksempel i rammer på en vegg: B&W!
Bildene dine var i alle fall fine uansett hvordan du velger å vise dem.

GAWO said...

Jeg falt veldig for det siste bilde. Og da i farger. Spennende å se innover fra bue til bue og så ende opp med alle fargene. Fin plassering av benken. Den ødela ikke for den siste buen. Sort/hvitt bilder er spennende men da bør ikke jeg først ha sett de i farger. Jeg er veldig glad i farger og ender som oftest opp med det om jeg må velge.

richies said...

I particularly like the last shot in black and white. The arches are great

An Arkie's Musings

ArneA said...

I prefer the color photos. B&W is for photo art when the spectacular images come into focus and not "reporting" pictures.

Katney said...

I like them all.

A number of years ago (I will not divulge what number) I spent a year working part time at our local small town newspaper. We shot our photos in black and white film most of the time. But folks would bring in information about an event which had happened and often bring a snapshot to go with the expected article. So many of those photos could not be used because they had virtually no contrast.

Contrasts are a key in the black and white images.

In quilting we talk about values. Colors next to each other will not offer contrast if they are of similar value. I was involved in making a quilt once for someone who, I learned later, was colorblind. He pretty much saw the world in black and white--able to distinguish that some things were NOT black or white because of a brightness factor that is not so apparent when you actuall see the color. We had used two fabrics with the same print on them--one in dark blue and one in dark red--virtually same value. Oops! When those were next to each other, there was no subtle contrast of color for him--only a mass of the same deep grey.

Not every photo that works in color works in black and white. It has to be a good photo to start with, with good contrasts.

I'll be quiet again now.

Monica said...

Liker alle bildene jeg, men spesielt de i sort/hvitt. Jeg syns roen i bildene kommer bedre frem da:)

Malyss said...

You had to choose benches...Ü

For the first shot, I prefer the B-W version, but I would choose the vertical shot, with a smaller frame in the up, because what is above the stone fence is disturbing.I'd keep the water in front of the bench , it gives deepness to the shot.
For the second shot, I prefer the colored version. I find the B-W version too flat.The colors make the perspective stronger.
that's my choice, but maybe it is not the best one, it is very subjective...

Photo Cache said...

It's just a matter of personal preference. I like all three in both color and b/w. So it depends also on what mood the photographer/editor is in the time of posting the photos.

Fabulous photos btw.

Ann said...

Ok Runee, I agree totally with when you say a straight conversion, doesnt always save the day, I fiddle for ages dodging and burning, and even then sometimes dump the whole shot, I like strong contrast in B&W...but thats just me.
So in my view Shot number 5 is my personal favourite, I love the yellow ceiling with peeling paint, the view to the end of the cloister
just great perspective, detail and composition.

Kerri said...

First set - color - I love seeing the bench and arch reflected in the water (oh King of reflection shots)

2nd set and 3rd sets B&W.

My favorite of all...that last shot! WOW oh WOW...what a stunner!

Anemone said...

Jeg måtte bare tilbake :-)))
For med ett begynte jeg og tenke mens jeg sto på kjøkkenet her...

Noe i det første og andre bilde serie uroer meg i sinnet..., benken står ikke helt rett??? bildet er tatt ørlite fra en kant, ikke sant?? Undrer nå på om dette var bevisst?? og har det noen betydning for motivet tro...???

Hilsen en med tellekanter i sterk ordensans :-)
P.s. ikke bli lei deg eller sint nå da, måtte bare høre vet du.

PERBS said...

I had to look sevral times to decide. The first two I like in either black and white or color. The last one, I prefer the black and white best because the trees outdoors looks like a wall painting inthe interior of that tunnel. When I see the beautiful view outside,in color, it distracts away from the beauty of the "tunnel."

Oh how I love those benches! I will link to them again as they deserve to be remembered. I can do that without uploading photos -- see my note on blog why I can't upload right now.

Ida said...

Her foretrekker jeg sort/hvitt versjonene.
Bildene blir "roligere".
Nydelig er det uansett.
Ett av mine favorittsteder for fotografering i Bergen by! :)

Pernille said...

På de to første lekre bildene så må jeg si at jeg foretrekker farger. På det siste, så blir det sort/hvitt.
Om vi leker at vi er i klubben no, så ville jeg ha mørknet det bittelitt;)Men det er meg det;)

Ha det kos og klem fra meg:))

KOSTAS said...

The every photograph has her own beauty!
Very excellent post!

RuneK said...

Her er det ikke lett å velge Rune. Bildene er flotte på hver sin måte. Noen ganger kan s/h gi mer ro i bildet/motivet, det kan vise fram andre strukturer, man kan få litt aldrene syn på et slikt bilde og man kan få det rent og enkelt.
Det siste bildet er absolutt en favoritt, det ble veldig enkelt,delikat, rent og ryddig uten farge. Det fikk et annet lys i "tunellen". Spennende at du har tatt to sett bilder og vist dem fram. Bra!

Marka said...

Set #1) B/W

Set #2) either: B/W if you want to emphasize the bench, color if you want to emphasize the bush

Set #3) Color

That's just me. Go with what you think is best.

Excellent perspectives!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

I think all six work because the "bones" are good in each one. My favourite is the bottom photo in B&W. The lines are GREAT! For me, the yellow distracts my eyes a little from the beautiful lines in the colour version. But if I had seen only the coloured version, I'd have thought it was close to perfect.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

it's hard to choose - i'm so used to seeing things in colour these days

ChrisJ said...

Has to be color. I love the soft greens. So glad the Lord didn't make trees and grass red!!

Fire Byrd said...

I love the clarity in these photos. The one that gets me is the colour one with the bench side on and the 'hidden' garden at the end. Has a promise of the unknown with sun.

Abraham Lincoln said...

There is much to be said for color. When done right it is perfect and almost always more saturated than cameras are set to make them. The problem is that converting a color picture to black and white reveals white areas that were burned out in the color shot. You have that in your last shot where the end of the tunnel, so to speak, shows a color setting with the tree trunks burned out. No detail. Trunks are white in the sun, and white in the black and white which is not the way they were when you took the photo. So switching color to black and white is almost always not a good thing to do. Most new cameras can be set from the start to shoot in black and white and if that is done then the results are almost always better than the same scene shot with the color settings. The problem is choosing which to use. Black and White or Color.

John said...

Disse bildene syntes jeg gjorde seg i S/H. Det er vel årstiden og den lave sola som gjør fotograferingen litt kjelkete nå om dagen. Det er vanskelig å få bilder med god kontrast og smell i fargene uten å bruke Topaz eller lignende filtre og da syntes jeg det kan være like greit å lage S/H utgave.

Ps. Hvis elevasjonsvinkelen er lav og rekkevidden lang så tror jeg faktisk man vil skyte over elva og inn i den nye delen av Fr.stad. :)
Men det var vel ikke så mye futt i det kruttet de benyttet på den tiden så det gikk vel bra...hehe.

RuneE said...

Thank you all who have made comments about my pictures. People see different things in the same pictures, and I have learned a lot from this. One or more of them might pop up again somewhere some time in a slightly changed version.

Reader Wil said...

I prefer the coloured photos, because we see in colours and not in black and white. I agree with Arne that b&w photos are for art photos where a special effect is created. B&w movies, like the Hitchcock movies can create a sinister feeling with a lot of shadows. Your photos were meant to be coloured.

Sara said...

I vote for colour! They are beautiful, and my favorite is the last one.

Lew said...

I prefer the color images of the bench and pool, but like the b&w of the arches best.

Reader Wil said...

Thank you Rune, you are right that B&W doesn't wholly belong to gothic stories and movies like those of Hitchcock. But what I meant was that they have a different approach. Suppose there is heavy fog. In that case colour would spoil the special atmosphere and the mystery of the picture. I have photos in b&w of my children when they were babies, taken by a friend, who was a photographer, like you. He saw directly the right angle and right shadow to make the picture interesting and beautiful. The same photo taken in colours wouldn't be half as interesting. The result is different. BTW your photos are always good, and who am I to criticize some body like you. That's the last thing I would do, but you asked which photo we preferred and I said what I thought.

RuneE said...

Reader Will: I think we are much closer in what we see in the use of B & W - the differences in approach, goal and what can be expressed, but also in what cannot be expressed.

Thank your for the praise, but I'm still at the bottom of the ladder! :-)

chanpheng said...

The photos are strong in both B&W and color, but the last one works the best because of the composition and the lines, the color is actually distracting in its counterpart. Very interesting discussion and I enjoyed reading all the comments.

2sweetnsaxy said...

You didn't say if you took these as black and white or if you converted them. I think that with like most visual things, which you prefer is a matter of your visual taste or what may personally touch you in some way.

I'm an amateur photographer. I've still got a lot to learn but I like to convert certain photos to black and white because I think they would look great that way.

For me it makes me more aware of what to look for when I'm shooting, remember to take black and whites when I'm out and what to look for that will work when I do.

I agree that not everything looks good in black and white. To me black and white is more about the contrasts and the subject.

Maybe we talk about it more because we're still learning how to work it. :-)

2sweetnsaxy said...

P.S. By the way, thought I like these black and whites, I tend to like the colored ones more only because the color emphasises certain portions of the photo that the black and white just doesn't convey.

Example - under the bench, the stripe of green grass under the bench works with the almost same shade under the curve of the arch and in the branches of the bush to the left. In the last shot I love the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak but there is more impact in color. If I had not seen the colors maybe it would not have mattered.

Still, I think it's about what you want to say with the photo.

Barbara Martin said...

I like all of the photos, but to pick a favourite: it would be the second last photo near the bottom.

jinksy said...

In the coloured photos, the air has a sparkling quality all its own, but the last black and white picture is certainly eye catching.

sixstars said...

Great photos lots of interesting points. I prefer the b&w where there is a lot of stone work. Especially the contrast of the bright white trees and the black metal of the bench seat. Im guessing your camera takes both modes simultaneously.