Thursday, May 29, 2014

Peeling Away the Layer of Color

by Linda




In "Photographically Speaking", David DuChemin talks about "the seduction of color". He says "color is powerfully seductive and affects us not only visually but emotionally.....we are drawn to certain colors.......even subtle colors present in an image can give those elements more visual mass than we want or create a clash of colors that distracts. But create a great black and white conversion, rendering those same colors as tones, and you allow the lines, tones, textures, and gesture of the image to speak more loudly because the color has been silenced."

Black and white pictures are so interesting, I find that I usually will study them more carefully than a full color picture. I especially like the ones with high contrast, with very little gray. Last year when I was considering a 365 project, one of the things I thought about was shooting the entire year in black & white.

Shooting in black and white or converting to black and white is the question. While my DSLR can shoot in black and white, I never do it, preferring instead to convert an image to black and white while processing. On the other hand, I will shoot an image in black and white with my iPhone. My app of choice for this is 6X6. This app will shoot in either color or black and white and the screen will show the scene in your choice. It takes square pictures and both color and black and white options have 8 different modes to choose from.



Here is the top image in color as it was shot. I thought it was nice but when I took the color away the clouds really came alive, and the clouds were the reason I took the picture in the first place.



This picture of corn taken with my phone looks "meh"


Then I took it in black and white. Look at the kernels!


Even white flowers benefit from a little black and white conversion.


I used a preset in Lightroom on these white flowers, Matt Kloskowski"s HDR black and white (light)


Buildings are always interesting.


Buildings are even more interesting in black and white.

Sometimes the decision to convert to black and white comes when processing an image that I like but it is just missing something. Sometimes while processing an image, the color gets in the way. Removing it sometimes reveals the true picture.

Sometimes you just have to peel off a layer to get to the heart of the picture.

Do you see beauty in black and white pictures? Do you shoot in black and white or convert in processing to black and white?

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12 comments:

Dotti said...

Wow! Such dramatic contrasts, Linda! I will confess that I am a color junkie ... especially with flowers. I always hate to take the color out of the flowers. But it is so true. B&W really allows us to concentrate on the bones of the photo and in many cases {as with yours above}, makes a dramatic change in the photo. Shoot in black and white? No. Convert to black and white? Every once in a blue moon. Or should that be black and white moon? Good post to push us out of our color comfort zones. I think I'll concentrate on B&W for the next few days.

heyjudephotography said...

I do love black and white pictures, and like you, I tend to study them carefully - they draw me in. I so love to shoot architecture in black and white, and the shot of the building you've captured here is just perfect in b&w! Like Dotti mentioned above, I am drawn to color - most of my photos are saturated with color. But I love b&w, and I see that some photos are just better when the color is removed.

Susan said...

Black and white photos are my favorite!! So much detail to absorb…it draws me in! Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful day!

AFishGirl said...

I don't use black and white as much as I'd like, because I really do like it. I try to think if the colour adds or takes away from what the picture is trying to say. I should (along with never saying should) shoot in RAW and try the conversions that way. I just use RadLab now for my b&w. Great post.

Cathy said...

I love black and white. I have thought about doing a month of black and white for my 365. I just might do that now! Great post.

sherrygaley.com said...

I especially love your last image of the buildings in black and white. I find the patterns fascinating and they really pop in b and w. I love a great portrait in black and white. I never do them but would love too some day. I never shoot in black and white but love the control you can get in a good conversion. Architecture is my favourite application but I always intend to look for other images that might become more powerful in black and white. Thanks for reminding me...

kelly said...

yes, put me the 'color-junkie' column as well. but whenever i see beautiful b&w photography such as this, it always motivates me to incorporate it more into my photography. thanks for the inspiration!

Deanna said...

I do love b&w but I so rarely think of changing my pics from color. And sometimes they can really enhance a shot, especially your building shot,that is just awesome in b&w. I always convert in processing never in my camera for b&w. Thanks for the tips on the apps and Lightroom preset!!

terriporter said...

Raising my hand with the group of color junkies! I especially hate taking the color out of flowers but when I do, for a challenge or something, I am amazed at how much texture and contrast shows up in b&w. I totally agree that your landscape shot and your building shot are perfect examples of great b&w conversions. I just need to make myself do it more. No, I never shoot in b&w either but I usually use RadLab to convert. I used to use 6x6 on my phone but I kept accidentally shooting in b&w when I didn't want to! Think I'll play with a little b&w just for the fun of it!

Viv@within the Frame said...

I particularly like portraits in black and white or monochrome it makes, I think, the viewer really concentrate on the subject.

susan said...

Always a fan of b/w! Love the building photo! Cool!

Roxi -Coppercurls Designs said...

I convert, and lately I have been doing more black and white. I've been intending to and it's finally happening. One thing I struggle with is 'seeing' in black and white while I'm shooting. Love your shots and processing.

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