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To B&W or not to B&W...

Discussion in 'photo' started by tuga, Jun 27, 2020.

  1. tuga

    tuga European

    To B&w or not to B&w, that is the question...

    After visiting India for the first time in '95 I just had to start shooting colour. The following year I carried 2 camera bodies, one loaded with Ektachrome the other with XP2 but I unded up hardly ever using the B&W camera. Then my children were born, I stopped travelling and photographing.
    I was only in the early '10s I was asked to photograph a few "book portfolio" experiences for my young cousin and I started playing with black and white again.
    For the past 5 years now it's been about 50/50; I choose whatever I find best suits that particular photo. I think that at least 90% would work just as well in B&W.

    Last year I applied for a venue but my application was rejected. One of the criticisms was that the project was a mixture of black and white photos which according to them made the selection feel less cohesive. Since then I have been torn between mixing colour with b&w or giving up on the former altogether.
    This issue has been made even more nagging now that I am in the process of editing a selection of images for a zine...

    What are your views on this matter, to mix or...mono only?
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
  2. Stunsworth

    Stunsworth pfm Member

    Almost everything I post is B&W, I think colour can often be a distraction from the subject being photographed, and I find getting something to work well in colour is more difficult than B&W. However I’m open minded and will make exceptions where colour adds to the image.

    I use the Alienskin Exposure plugin for all my B&W conversions.
    Goldenmouse, eternumviti and tuga like this.
  3. eternumviti

    eternumviti Bloviating Brexiter

    I always feel that individual projects should be cohesive - either B&W, or colour.

    B&W is more contemplative, colour is louder, and the presence of an adjacent colour image can serve to distract from the subtlety of a B&W.
  4. eternumviti

    eternumviti Bloviating Brexiter

    I agree with all of that. I use Alienskin too as part of my workflow, though counterintuitively most often when I am working on a colour image. I find the Kodak Portra preset very useful. The film grain scans are arguably better than Nik's as well.
    Stunsworth likes this.
  5. tuga

    tuga European

    That makes sense.
    Gromit likes this.
  6. Gromit

    Gromit Plasticine Dog

    +1 :)

    Been shooting a lot more Fuji recently, and in doing so been taking the advice of Kevin Mullins to compose in B&W (where there's an EVF obviously). I really think it helps - sure I'm a fumbling amateur but for both content and composition it seems to work well, and can see the sense in doing so.
  7. JemHayward

    JemHayward pfm Member

    The Fuji B&W viewfinder is something I use 90% of the time on one of my two X-E cameras. I find it useful even if I eventually use the image in colour as the B&W is less distracting.
  8. tuga

    tuga European

    Interesting. I tried the b&w EVF display for a day and that was it. Doesn't do anything for me.
    I think most of my images work both in colour and b&w and I don't find the b&w finder helpful. In fact I've just moved away from EVF altogether and gone back to optical.
  9. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    I'm kinda in this way of thinking about adjacent images.I try to work out my project before choosing a media, and then stick to it. If B&W suits the reason you take the pic, colour cannot have a place. Be coherent in what you are trying to express is my feeling, and don't mix. Colour is not better od worse, it is just, sometimes, needed.
    tuga likes this.
  10. tuga

    tuga European

    I have converted all photos to b&w and I feel like there's something important missing on some of them. I will do all colour instead.
  11. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    I don't want to sound all teachy, but I really think that it's about knowing what you intend to show. Work that out...what the image has to 'say' to the viewer, and you'll know if you need colour or not.
    tuga likes this.
  12. tuga

    tuga European

    My question is in the scope of mixing colour images with black and white images. I had been doing only colour until some 5 years ago so the problem did not exist.
    After moving to Oxford I started editing my photos according to how I though worked best for each particularly image; I think it works well online because you can only see a single image at a time but have come to accept that combining colour images with black and white images on print (or a show) will have a negative impact.

    Having now processed all images both in colour and in black and white I ended up with a different selections of photographs for each set, since some images don't work as well in colour whilst others become weak when converted to black and white.

    One option would be to have half the set in coulour and the other in black and white (split the zine in half), or pehaps it'd be better to just have one zine for each set.
  13. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    Yes ok, well maybe organise the layout by another criteria, so that the colour or not has less relevance. Put all the portraits together, of landscapes etc. Then maybe it will be easier to see the reason for the colour choice. I do get how some pages with multiple images struggle with both B&W and colour, and that's really best done with the images 'laid on the floor' first to see what works next to what by eye. I used to hang an annual Art exhibition or 3 and organising that is similar. lay them out, move them around and it should fall into place eventually?
    tuga likes this.
  14. tuga

    tuga European

    I am currently going through this book. It's more of an essay about photography than a photographer's book and even though there are photos in colour and in b&w they're not mixed. It works well.

    My photos are somewhat random, bits and pieces that I find interesting when I am walking around the town. Sometimes it's the light or the colour that draws me in, others a geometric construction or a particularly interesting or funny people situation. Many but not all images would work well when shown in pairs.
  15. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    Im a bit like that...wandering around looking, not seeking.
    Sometimes I have a project in mind but often am like you.

    Good book. Hope it helps you resolve the layout issues.

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