Sunday, September 4, 2011

Color Dilemma

I can't seem to make up my mind on the color vs B&W choice. It used to be much easier. In the old days, if you wanted black & white, you put a roll of Tri-X (or whatever) in the camera  and shot B&W. If you wanted color, you chose a color film. It was possible to get B&W prints from color negatives, but the results weren't necessarily pleasing. Forget about color from B&W film.

Now of course, the camera shoots in color, all the time, and you make a choice in processing. Sometimes the choice is easy, sometimes not. Is it really just a matter of taste, or are there some general guidelines that dictate when to use one or the other? In the previous post, I submitted two pics in color, but the more I play around with it, the more I like B&W. I've had the opposite experience, where I posted something in B&W and later changed my mind and reposted in color. Here I can't make up my mind, so I'm posting both. Help!

Painted Leaves B&W

Colonnade B&W


I did a little searching around on the topic. Here's a photographer who posts side-by-side color/b&w versions and asks viewers to vote: 

Ferran Jordà Photography Photoblog

And here is Eric Kim, a street photographer, with his general guidelines and examples. I didn't always choose what he chose in the pictures posted. 

Black and White or Color in Street Photography: How Do You Make the Decision?


  1. I think they look great in B&W ... so I vote for B&W

  2. Thanks Gerry, I think maybe sometimes I post too quickly after shooting, and I need to sit on the images a while before making a decision. Today the B&W seems more obviously a better choice. I also posted an update with some links on the subject...

  3. Well... my feelings are that it's down to the artist. I like street-photography in B&W, but sometimes colour suits there too. Architecture always looks good in B&W, concentrating on textures of stone, glass and steel etc. I am not so sure about nature and wildlife. I think colour does this best... although, if your plant ot flower can be presented in an artistic way, then B&W works too. Portraits can look incredible in both.

    So.. my conclusion is that there is no answer to your question.

  4. I'm afraid you are right, Bill, and yet you also included some general guidelines, which are helpful and I think valid. I may adopt the attitude of, "when in doubt, toss it out" (color, that is).

  5. Hi, I am enjoying your photographs! I am not an expert, but they are interesting and draw me in....I like the leaves in B&W, but I like the columns in color -they are warmer and have more "depth". Anyway, just thought I would chime in....will keep stopping in from time to time. Do you take these while you are riding a bike in town? Take care, Lori L.

  6. Thanks Lori! Your comments make sense - chime in any time! And I'm certainly not an expert either...

    I sometimes take the camera on bike rides, but it's not easy, walking is better. When I'm biking I am going too fast and I don't really like having the ride interrupted. But I do sometimes notice things that I make a mental note to return to on foot some day...