Black and white versus colored

Is there a difference between shooting black and white and colored?

Current digital workflow technology allows us easily to decide at any stage of the process if an image should be colored or black and white, if its base is a colored image. But there is a big difference. The aesthetics of a black and white image rely on structure and contrast much more than in a colored image, where certainly colors and color contrast play a much bigger role. Only in seldom cases a good quality colored image can also be converted into a good quality black and white image, although technology easily would allow this. One click in Photoshop and the conversion is done. A few adjustments of contrast and brightness and you have a fair result. 

But if you want a great picture in black and white, you need to make the decision before you release the shutter. This takes some discipline, in case you are using a typical digital camera, which shoots color by nature. In the old days selecting a black and white film helped to stay focused on black and white image requirements. Certainly, even with that focus you still can do wrong. It needs experience, seeing the world in black and white. And switching your attitude between two photos is even more challenging, if not impossible. I therefore decided to buy me a Leica Monochrome. Sure, that was a very expensive decision, but I think it is worth it. It helps me to get into a completely different mind set before and during the shooting. I did a street photography photo book project in Paris in February 2018 and it was clear to me, that it needed to be in black and white. This in my understanding would capture the nature of that city in February at its best. I did not even take a color camera with me for that trip. 

If you want to try yourself, get you one of the old analog SLRs, put a black and white film in and shoot. If you or your relatives don’t have one anymore, they are really cheap now.


Categories: B&W

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