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Opinions on color or b/w

Discussion in 'General Photography Discussion' started by jojie, Aug 13, 2017.

  1. jojie

    jojie Member

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    I shot a bunch of sunset photos around Corolla NC and would like to get some opinions on which one has more dramatic effect, color or b/w ?

    XT-1 w/ 16mm 1.4, no PP at all.


    Critique/comments welcome as well.
    Thanks for looking !

    DSCF2194-2.jpg

    DSCF2194.jpg
     
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  2. pandoraefretum

    pandoraefretum Premium Member

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    normally I prefer b/w but
    colour in this case ; the warmth comes right through
    the black and white looks like a setting moon

    good photo
     
  3. RedWagon

    RedWagon Premium Member

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    For me, the whole point of capturing a sunrise/sunset is because of the colors.
     
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  4. Topsy

    Topsy Premium Member

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    Me too.
     
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  5. NewmanX

    NewmanX Well-Known Member

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    Yep. Colour.
     
  6. Beaumont

    Beaumont Premium Member

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    Colour.
     
  7. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    Color. A black & white sunset makes no sense to me. But then a lot of B&W photos don't make sense to me: flowers, birds, children, most landscapes, I could go on. Of course, there are exceptional examples of monochrome photos of all those subjects.

    I've been contemplating why B&W photography seems to be enjoying a popularity bubble in this modern era. Unfortunately, I don't have enough education in art, esthetics, and the history of photography to get much past the opinion phase. One of my theories is that a black and white photo stands out as something different in this world of color. Ironically, back when ALL photography was b&w, some photographers hand tinted (colorized) their photos for the same reason. But does making something different make it better? Maybe? Sometimes.

    Then there is nostalgia. Some of us of a certain age (self, included) have early memories of a time when newspapers and television, some movies, most magazines and family snapshots were b&w. Of course, except for photography, everything else back then was in color, just as it is now. Converting a photo to B&W, or better yet sepia, does evoke nostalgia, and makes the scene more ambiguous in time. If that is your goal, then b&w/sepia does make some kind of sense.

    Also adding value to B&W photography today is inertia from the past. So many great names in photography, the ones you see hanging in museums, are associated with B&W. Art books and the photography books on your coffee table are full of B&W images. So we tend to think that's what great photography is supposed to look like. Maybe we hope some of that monochrome greatness will rub off on us?

    Sorry, this riff was not intended to be critical of the OP or anyone else in the forum. Just wondering out loud why B&W seems to be so popular now, because, in my humble opinion, a certain percentage of the many monochromes I see on this site would look just as good, or better, in color. I'm not saying B&W has no value - far from it - just that its present value seems (to me) to be a bit overinflated.
     
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  8. Martin E

    Martin E Active Member

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    You state your case well but perhaps analyse too much. Because digital images all start as a colour raw file we make a conscious decision to convert to monochrome which in the history of photography is a quite a new and rather odd concept. Try turning the whole thing on it's head and consider the opposite, all your images start as monochrome and you have the option to use colour.
    My favourite quote, photographic or otherwise, comes from one George Clinton who said 'Free your mind and your 'ass will follow'.
     
  9. Frankie

    Frankie Premium Member

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    I'd spent more than 4 decades in photography...starting with B/W of course. Why?...more affordable and cheaper processing in my student days, even possible in DIY in the communal darkroom.

    I'd then dabbled in colour...many of my peer decreed only using transparency films. Why?...more accurate, better skin tone... For me, the real advantage is that the entire hardcopy stage is bypassed...less mishaps, no colour pollutions, from the sensor [...a slide] to my eyeball in one go...

    Then I'd begin hearing some singing the praise of B/W...more artful they insist, often citing past photo-celebrities such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams and Minor White . I guess in their psyche, they too would be deemed more artful if in the company of HC-B, AA or MW.

    More studies in university in my field, I attended graduate courses in Colorimetry...and learned the finer concepts in wavelength and luminance and the pioneering work of C.I.E. I quickly realize that B/W abstracts wavelengths in favour of luminance, and...colour fidelity was no trivial task...from sensor [film then] to processing to hardcopy printing or image projection...; and what about colour temperature and white balance as well.

    We are now firmly in the digital age...and have the tools to capture full [...really] light spectrum and even simulating films [...Fuji knows]. But...if the full light spectrum is more real [argument depends on one's knowledge of what is real [...do you?], why distort it to look like old films?

    I had gone through the entire arsenal of colour vision testing back then in school...the "100 hue" test proved my colour vision was perfect [...back then]; so...what I am seeing now must be more real...no?

    My personal strategy these days...shoot in [Fuji] "standard" colour first, convert into B/W or even simulating [colour] films later...if the subject begs for such treatment, even sepia toning as well.

    But...I won't do that irreversibly in the field...
     
  10. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    If all my images started out as monochrome and I had the option to convert them to color, I would use that option for the vast majority of them. Because raw color files are "a new and rather odd concept" I'm wondering if the idea we need to free our minds from is that b&w is somehow inherently better, or more serious, or more artistic, than color photography? That is, are we biased by the baggage of 200 years of b&w photography vs. only 50 years with color?

    I do believe that b&w is superior to color for emphasizing structure and texture. Photography is already an abstraction, and monochrome photography is more abstract than color. Sometimes less is more, I get that. But sometimes it's not more, it's just less. Has b&w become a habit, or an affectation - like listening to vinyl LP records played back through a vacuum tube amplifier? There is nothing wrong with that, but to me, it just doesn't sound any better than digital.
     
  11. jojie

    jojie Member

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    I like your reasoning, so I'm going to look more closely at all of color sunset shots i made.
     
  12. runswithsizzers

    runswithsizzers Premium Member

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    Yes, this touches on what I'm trying to sort out. Now that we are free from the NECESSITY of b&w, we can choose it after careful deliberation - and not out of habit.

    I believe it is likely that all photographers have been influenced by the truly great monochromes of history, and, unavoidably, have developed some bias in favor of b&w photography. I doubt we can escape this bias; not even saying we should - only that we should recognize it.
     
  13. Tom239

    Tom239 Well-Known Member

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    I like that this thread made me reflect on what I like about black and white.

    I like smooth gradations in black and white. Sure you can have smooth gradation in color too but there is something magical about a gradual fade in grayscale.

    I like how black and white lends itself to certain kinds of manipulation. Black and white shot with colored filters (or a digital processing equivalent) is an artificial effect but it can be done tastefully--without the resulting image looking blatantly, annoyingly artificial.

    It's not about nostalgia for me, it's just enjoying the medium's own particular flavor.
     
  14. RedWagon

    RedWagon Premium Member

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    Thanks jojie.
    You're sunset looks great and very relaxing.
     
  15. Jalandiso

    Jalandiso Member

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