Black and White or Color?

While Shrew is busy cleaning out her closet she bravely offered to let me post this evening to keep our photography discussions going.

I really love black and white photography, but sometimes a picture is just meant to be in color. Then there are times when the decision isn’t so clear. Here are two versions of a photo I took last Friday at the beach (yes, we have a beach in Chicago).

What do you think… black and white or color? and why?




10 thoughts on “Black and White or Color?

  1. A good friend of mine who is an art director has always said..high contrast shots make the best black and white photos. If you can’t tell…squint at it; if the subject remains the most dominant thing, good chances it is a candidate for B&W.

    But this photo breaks that simple rule -even though that rule keeps the chairs as the main subject I still prefer the color one. The rosey hue to the sky. The warmth of the wood. The subtle blueish tinge to the water…yep I think this photo is much more interesting in color. I know what the weather is, I can guess the time of day, even the play of the sunlight in the distance brings an interactive value to the color one.

  2. Sorry to be a party pooper, but I am having a hard time answering the question because the pictures are so large. I can’t see them on my screen all at once. I have to scroll, and I have a very large monitor. brc, is there a way that you could make these a little smaller?

  3. Thanks, brc! Much better. Not only could I not see the whole pictures before, when I did scroll around, all I could focus on was that someone had erased enough letters from “Thursday” on the board to make it say something childish!

    Now that I can see them better, I am going with the color for this one too. What does it for me is that one little wave in the middle of the water that has the pink glow to it.

  4. You make a strong point for the color version of the photo. I once read that B&W photography was 50% the photo and 50% the developing in the darkroom. I wonder if I could manipulate the B&W version to give it more contrast? It may be that the subject matter or the time of day (7:30pm) weren’t ideal. When I took the photo I wished that it had been just a bit earlier so I could have had more light and shadows from the sun.

  5. Maybe what you are looking for is a duo tone treatment. I understand your contemplation about this photo…both communicate very different things. What is it you were trying to capture?

  6. Well, what drew me to take the photo was the feeling of peacefulness and the solitude of the empty beach with the waves lightly crashing on the shore. I thought the lifeguard station was interesting architecturally against the sand and the water. Originally, I thought the simplicity of the composition would lend itself to a neat B&W photo, but now that we’re talking about it, the colors are so subtle that I think it does look better in color.

  7. I will jump on the color bandwagon too. There is a beautiful subtleness to the color that you don’t get in the B&W version. If you had taken the picture when more sun was available, I think you would have lost the subtlety (sp?), and that adds something to the feeling of the shot. It looks more alive in the color shot, yet you can feel a bit of lonliness.

  8. Hey, I like that squinting rule. It applies to quilting too! ;o)

    brc, I love how you captured all of the different stages of that wave…rolling, about to crash, crashing. Nice.

    Oh, and I vote for the color one too.

  9. I vote for the color photo. For some reason I like portrait type photos in black and white. I think the color of people’s clothing, background, etc… sometimes takes away from the person’s expression, facial features, etc… I usually prefer landscape,beach, etc… photos in color. I’m a horrible photographer, so I appreciate all of the photos you guys post.

    Shrew, OT, but I do have a great sweaty up-close pic of Brian Gallagher from the Goshen,IN concert. It’s not gonna win any photography contests, but it is hawt! Once I have it on disc I will try to post it (or get HC4S to help me).

  10. I like the black and white because I think it accentuates the subject and illustrates the contrast more strongly than the color one.

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