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B/W or Colour

Discussion in 'Exhibition Lounge' started by Brian, Sep 17, 2017.

  1. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    All my life I have been a B/W nutter. Colour was for customers of Boots or holders of PhDs in Industrial Chemistry.

    But now with the Fuji X cameras I am beginning to have the odd wobble.

    This is an example. The B/W version has a bit of documentary grit, my sort of style.....sorry that's a bit pretentious even from one who wears proper glasses.

    But the Fuji colours, and this is a straight raw conversion in LR all settings left at default , I find quite beautiful in their understatement.And yet the colours are absolutely accurate....or so my wife tells me' untitled-15.jpg untitled-.jpg

    Incidentally the title for this snap.

    " Please, please sweet Jesus send me a bloody bus."
  2. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    I don't think so. ;) I prefer the monochrome version though I think I see what you're saying about the colour.
  3. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    It's interesting, this whole B&W v. Colour thing. I know some people feel that we should shoot in colour because we see in colour and so it's more 'real'. And others feel that early photographic technology only allowed for B&W prints and so we should be true to the purest spirit of the form and not shoot in colour.

    This is Exhibition, not Appraisal but you do seem to be asking if we agree or not. In this instance I prefer the colour, but I think in part that's down to me being a bit contrary.

    The harp is more visible without the distraction of the colours of the number plate and car light behind it and so the more obvious argument might be for the black and white shot which eliminates much of that visual jumble. But when you stumble on something like this, something blatantly out of the ordinary but in an ordinary setting, you have two choices. You can highlight how extraordinary it is, or you can choose to show it as just another element of an ordinary experience. The black and white version makes something of the presence of the harp in the bus stop. The color version almost skips over it. Ultimately it depends on your intent. Do you want to tell the viewer 'look at this unusual thing I saw', or do you want them to think 'Why did he take a photograph of two people in a bus stop...oh look!"
  4. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    I like the colour better. Partly for te reasons geren gives (above) but really because the colour version shows me the woman's expression as the first thing I see - and recognize! Her expression says it all for me. Brilliant - and your interpretation seems spot-on to me. I have more time to look around the colour one and pick out all the elements. The b&w firstly strikes me as a bit over-cooked and stops me (but probably only me!) browsing the scene.
  5. steveandthedogs

    steveandthedogs Well-Known Member

    B&w for me, I find the colour in this case too distracting in a street scene like this. On the other hand, colour has its place, but preferably when it's the main interest in the picture. Here, the colours are in the wrong place.

    It's also a good example of why you should always carry wire cutters at all times.
    Shouldn't say that about harps in Wales. Mind you, my ex nearly lynched me when I had trouble not laughing at the Druids in the National when they all trooped off a double-decker...

  6. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    Yes Geren I am inviting discussion. Doesn't matter re the pictures, they are merely to provide an example of B/W or colour, provide fodder for debate.

    I think an interesting factor is what is the subject of the picture, the harpist or the woman?

    For me the subject is apprehension a desperate looking up the road for the long awaited bus, she needs to get away from the noise being created by the harpist tuning up.contrary to many established conventions re composition her looking out of the frame and her placement emphasise the tension, please God send a bus. The harpist, the cause of concern is totally oblivious to the anxiety he has created, he is lost in his own little world.

    Whether my style is overcooked or not is another matter. Personally I like drama, to me the b/w version has that drama, a tension, the look of anguish and the way the lady clutches her bag, her look is way out and beyond the frame, the bus isn't even in sight, the bus is still miles away.. I also like the placement of the figures and how the shape of the lady is replicated in the harpist and his instrument. Then this little drama at the bus stop is placed into an urban landscape, there are three panels to this picture, a tryptic in fact.

    Now the colour picture is very pleasant. It's the same picture but tells a very insipid version of the story.

    Incidentally for those of a nervous disposition anything I say should be taken as a load of the old proverbial.

    I'll stop now before I get carried away even further by my own eloquence. :)
  7. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    Funny you should say that. He is in fact tuning it, his right hand is holding a key. In fact he broke a string and I had to mind his harp whilst he ran up the road to get a replacement.

    Glad there wasn't a photographer around to get a snap of my harp sitting.:)
  8. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Well I do think the B&W v. Colour argument has to be made on a case by case basis. I don't tend to shoot a lot of black and white - colour generally appeals more to me - but there are times, there are shots, where B&W works better.

    And I disagree with your comment about the colour image being an insipid version of the same story. I think it tells a different story.
  9. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    Thats interesting Geren. Seriously I think the colour version tells the same story but lacks any sort of impact. So go on tell me a story. :)

    Incidentally I'm not a great photographer, but I'm even worse talking about pictures.
  10. steveandthedogs

    steveandthedogs Well-Known Member

    I'm with Brian, here. The woman's face and look of dismay is much more obvious in the b&w than in colour and this alone adds a lot more drama to the scene. The half-p1$$ed fades slightly into the background as well in my view, which brings the poor woman even more to the fore and makes her the main focus, which doesn't happen in colour.


    ps I'd picked up about the tuning, just count your blessing it wasn't a triple harp. I wonder why he's bothering to tune it waiting for a bus. It will need doing again if he goes into a building with a different temperature and humidity.
  11. SXH

    SXH Well-Known Member

    The problem with that argument is that it can lead to the 'Lomo Philosophy' I read about in that 'Plastic Cameras' book I got free with some magazine last year. The argument being that early photographers had to make do with primitive cameras and chemistry so to go Lomo, and produce technically sub-standard pictures, is an homage to them. You've probably guessed that I disagree with them.

    Of course, if you take the argument even further, before they even had that primitive technology, they had to make do with paints and so forth. Can't image many hipster types taking time out to become competent artists...

    As for Brian's picture, I don't often prefer B&W over colour, but here I think I do - provided it's a less 'over-cooked' version.
    steveandthedogs likes this.
  12. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    You lot don't deserve me. ::)


    I'm the good looking one off to take a piccie of Granny on Margate beach. :)

    Anyway much as I am flattered by the attention given to my snap I was hoping others might put up pairs of examples for us to look at.

    You see it's very well having opinions but opinions out of context are meaningless.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017
  13. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Here's a pair which I think you can play either way. The colour seems to me to soften the image into a memory of a pleasant day out while the mono emphasises the brutality of the tank.

    Panasonic GM5_red 8GB 02 P1220743.JPG

    Panasonic GM5_red 8GB 02 P1220743 copy.JPG
    EightBitTony likes this.
  14. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Well-Known Member

    Never seen a harp on a bus.
    Seems a bit stronger in b/w
  15. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Here's a pair where the colour seems a great deal more effective to me than the monochrome...

    Canon 1Ds II 8GB 10 12CL8642 both.jpg
  16. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    An interesting question from Brian. Going to his original two examples I found that I looked at them in different ways: the colour version took me to the lady first, then the surroundings and, finally, to the chap with the harp. The black and white version took me to the chap with the harp first, then the environment and finally to the lady's expression. If I had to express a preference it'd be for the black and white because the 'story' that it lead me through was more pleasing and I also feel that Brian's treatment of the monochrome give the image more depth than the colour version.

    In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that I've always preferred black and white myself - although I've no axe to grind against colour and happily use it when I reckon that it's suitable.

    A lot of the stuff that I get to photograph is landscape-ish and for most of the year that consists of drab moorland up here in the frozen North. Take these two for example:

    [​IMG]Colour Moorland Path by Jeff Johnson, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Muddy Path 3 by Jeff Johnson, on Flickr

    I've tried to give the colour version a similar processing to the black and white, but for me the black and white version has more impact.

    These two are slightly different - the same picture with as much of the same processing as possible, but I forgot that the black and white version had been cropped-down to be more suitable for printing. To me, one of them is a record of a nice walk in the forest and the other has has mood and atmosphere.

    [​IMG]Colour the Road Goes Ever On by Jeff Johnson, on Flickr

    [​IMG]The Road Goes Ever On by Jeff Johnson, on Flickr

    Neither of these are going to win awards, but although I shoot in .raw I usually know whether I want the final result to be in colour or black and white when I press the shutter and in both of these cases I believe that the black and white treatment was the better of the two. I've done my best to make the colour versions as good as I can (there weren't colour versions of them until Brian asked his question - I've processed and uploaded these this afternoon) but my personal opinion is that taking the picture to be a black and white image was correct in both of these cases.

    I'd like to thank Brain - it's been an interesting exercise to go back to a couple of pictures that were intended to be black and white and to try to make something of them in colour!

    Cheers, Jeff
    Brian likes this.
  17. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I think the black and white version highlights the lady's annoyance and we find ourselves wondering when on the earth the bus is going to turn up. The colour version feels more as if it's about the photographer coming across an unusual scene in an otherwise everyday situation. It's a subtle difference I grant you.
    Brian and Catriona like this.
  18. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I went looking for a shot to add to the thread but nearly everything I've shot lately has been in colour and I can't honestly give a reasonable rationale for converting any of them to black and white. I'm going to hunt and see what the last thing was that I converted to black and white so that I can compare it with the colour version.
  19. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Here's one I'm ambivalent about.
    On the one hand, the blues travel across the image in colour. My b&w conversion was made to make the police box stand out as dominant. I can't make up my own mind which I prefer.
    colour 2monoap.jpg colour 2ap.jpg
  20. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    I see where you are coming from, difficult but that blue is overbearing.
    Catriona likes this.

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