Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Color or B/W?

Some days ago I argued with a photographer friend. I was saying that when you take pictures in black-and-white, you see differently (that means, look for different things to fill the frame) than when you take pictures in color. He insisted that it did not matter, you should just take the picture, and you can just as easily take a good b/w picture of the same scene as you can take a color picture.

Since I had spent many years shooting pictures in b/w before switching to color, this gave me food for thought. So I took a couple of color pictures and converted to b/w.

What do you think? Which ones work better?


Rezwan said...

I am not an expert in photography but I think color tells a lot.

I think for the first photo b/w suits because of the complexions of the soil and those bricks. And b/w gives a feeling that the picture is of a distant past. Actually with the color of the pictures you can set the tone of what are you trying to depict.

For the second one color is a must. Because the color captures the colors of these lives and the surroundings. We have seen also pictures experimenting with colors e.g. only keeping the child's color intact and the remaining picture in b/w.

saurabh said...

Hey Ihtisham,

Withtout a doubt the B&W pics usually tell you a better story. Sometimes the colors can be a distraction!
I like the pics you take. I have never been to B'desh, but is sure seems like a pretty country.


ulysses said...

Hi Rezwan,

You are right - color does have its own set of meanings.

For the first picture, b/w works pretty well. But when I was taking the picture, was I really thinking that? I doubt it.

The color patterns I think add a lot to the second picture. Also, it becomes a bit boring perhaps without the color?

Thanks for your comment.

Hi Saurabh,

Thanks for your comment - glad to hear you like my pictures :-)

B/W adds almost another dimension to the picture - a level of abstraction that color is incapable of. OTOH, a lot of the charm of b/w was in the chemicals, film, printing, and all that is gone now.

My switch from b/w to color has been hard, but I think I am finally using colors to compose. Sometimes ;-)

Rehan said...

I always prefer color as it gives you the natural look of things. However, there are some pictures like the first one in this post, that just wouldn't be the same if it wasn't shot in B/W.

ulysses said...

Hi Rehan,

Yes, I agree. In fact, as I was arguing with my photographer friend, I was already thinking of this picture (which had been color-only until then.)

Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

B/w would never do justice to the greens of rural bangla :-). I enjoy your photos because they capture real life. By the way perhaps you'll include more photos from sylhet/moulvibazar region. Theres a huge diaspora just longing to the see those regions. Thanks

ulysses said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks very much! I agree, you cannot capture many shades of green on b/w :-)

Regarding your request for pictures of Sylhet/MB - can you tell me what kinds of pictures the diaspora longs to see? Nature/landscape? People? Buildings? Historical buildings? Anything else?

That will help. Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

In black and white -- one is concentrating on textures and tone transitions, akin to fine art. Most art photography is done with very subtle color or no color at all. Sometimes there is a little toning (sepia, selenium).

Color is a distraction for finer images. There is no comparison between color and thoughtfully done B/W images. Most fine B/W is done using large format analog equipment (larger than medium format) and the contrast heavily altered to accentuate textures.

So -- naturally, single subjects (portraits, still lifes, macros) look better in B/W. The texture of the brick wall or one of the kids faces could be a better B/W study instead of using too many elements in the picture with the kids playing soccer.

In the US & UK, there are special B/W photo magazines.