So, do I process the image as color or black & white? This is a question I ask after choosing one of the images from my day of shooting. A lot of times I choose color because when traveling to a new place, the colors are an integral part of my first impressions and the feel of the location. A color image gives a real life representation in a photographic format. “This is what I saw so this is what I’m showing to you.” When sharing travel images, this can be important because for some, that image is the only representation they will ever see of that place so including all aspects of the scene, including the various colors, is essential.
There are images where I have made the effort to get out early in the morning to capture the scene in a certain light. With these images, color is an important part of the composition. I do consider color or Black & White as composition elements that need to be considered when making my images.
So why do I process a lot of my shots as black & white? Well sometimes the colors are out of whack or practically nonexistent like in some of my nighttime photos. Sometimes, the colors are very distracting and overwhelm the subject that I’m actually trying to convey. And sometimes I just like the look of black & white for that particular image. In these cases, it is purely subjective based on my tastes. It is my image after all. No one paid me to get the image. I took it simply because I wanted that image and I made it black & white because I prefer the look of it in black & white or something inside me said that it just needed to be black & white. This should be true for anyone taking pictures of anything. They are your pictures and unless you are hired to take them, you should process them based on how you feel about the image.
Lastly, I love to experiment. Sometimes you can really discover something new in you image and also, it’s a lot of fun.
There have been times when I took a shot thinking it would be a black and white image but after getting it on the computer decided to keep it color.
As a footnote, I have to add that on one trip to Puerto Vallarta I took along 2 film cameras, a Voigtlander R4a rangefinder and a Canon F1 SLR. I also took 10 rolls of film, 2 color and 8 black and white. I scanned the negatives into the computer for processing. In the case of color film, I have a choice of keeping them color or processing them in Black & White. I don’t have that choice with the Black and White film but it gives me a unique look to the image that I have not been quite able to duplicate with digital camera shots. That unique look is also true in the case of the color images when using certain films. Finally, by shooting film I am forced to slow down, think about what I’m doing to nail the exposure and the content I want in the image. I only have 36 shots and no immediate feedback from a screen on the back of the camera. I won’t know if I got it right until the film gets developed so I better be sure I’ve got the settings right to the best of my ability. I also learn to ‘see’ in black and white when I am composing my images and have some idea of what the final image will be. Maybe I’ll do a separate blog on the benefits I have gotten from shooting film.
That concludes this blog. I hope you found it informative and interesting. I do need to stress that these are just my opinions and how I work and think. Everyone is different and if your thinking and opinions are different, that’s great. That’s why we have such variety in life. I think that knowing or hearing (reading) what others feel makes us reflect and refine our own methods and way of thinking.