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  1. #1
    I can't member!?!? dmm96452's Avatar
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    B&W...over used?

    I believe that converting an image to b&w can add a dramatic effect to an image or enhance the emotions that it evokes but I also think that it is frequently done to images that are much better if left in color.

    I was wondering how others felt about it.
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  2. #2
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Two different things

    Quote Originally Posted by dmm96452
    I believe that converting an image to b&w can add a dramatic effect to an image or enhance the emotions that it evokes but I also think that it is frequently done to images that are much better if left in color.

    I was wondering how others felt about it.
    When you make an image in colour you are using the colour to compose it. When you do an image in black & white you are using lighting and contrast to compose it.

    To me these are two different approaches and usually I decide before starting to shoot if it's going to be in black and white or colour. For black & white I tend to go for lighting effects whereas in colour I tend to use a flatter lighting to avoid burning out the colour.

    About the "enhancing emotions" bit - I just think that coulour makes things look pretty and sometimes it gets in the way. Some subjects I always shoot in black & white.

    That's the theory, anyway.

    Charles

  3. #3
    don't tase me, bro! Asylum Steve's Avatar
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    Perhaps...

    Quote Originally Posted by dmm96452
    I also think that it is frequently done to images that are much better if left in color...
    First of all, I don't think over used is the proper term, as color images still (and will always) far out number b&w ones. But I know what you mean...

    While I think many shots can work as both color and b&w, I agree with Charles that it is usually better to have one or the other in mind as you shoot.

    In the "olden days" of film, you were, by the nature of the medium, almost forced to think in b&w when you shot bw film. And you never saw the scene in color in any of your materials (negatives, proof sheets, and prints).

    Now, with digital, a lot of b&w treatments are almost an afterthought, done in post-processing. But I don't think that's neccessarily a bad thing. Sure, sometimes the b&w image suffers, but like everything else photographic, it's a learning process.

    Personally, I really like it that way, and always having both a color and b&w version of the same scene (to me) is very exciting...
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    Re: Perhaps...

    Quote Originally Posted by Asylum Steve
    In the "olden days" of film, you were, by the nature of the medium, almost forced to think in b&w when you shot bw film. And you never saw the scene in color in any of your materials (negatives, proof sheets, and prints).

    Now, with digital, a lot of b&w treatments are almost an afterthought, done in post-processing. But I don't think that's neccessarily a bad thing. Sure, sometimes the b&w image suffers, but like everything else photographic, it's a learning process.

    Personally, I really like it that way, and always having both a color and b&w version of the same scene (to me) is very exciting...
    What I see a lot is the converting to BW because of poor technique. Magazines also promote this approach. Ones like popular, american, outdoor have all said in their "fix it" type sections to convert to BW if the technique (they'll use lighting) is poor. Which is all fine and dandy; I won't say I haven't done this myself.

    However, I do believe the best approach is to reach a higher level of enlightment. IOW, knowing when you're taking the shot that it would look best in BW. By being able to vision the final output will enable you take images that you otherwise may have passed up.

    Still, It's nice to be able to make the final decision after the capture.

  5. #5
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    The fundamentals apply regardless,so I think this goes both ways. B&W can be crutch, but so can color.

    You can have a photo that is spot on, except the color is flat and boring. In this instance the lack luster color can detract from the photo. This is a good example of when a B&W conversion is called for. Just like with composition...if the color doesn't add to the photo, take it out.

    On the other hand, a photo with brilliant colors can actually cover up what would otherwise be flat lighting, lack of texture or a simply boring subject. The color creates a contrast that wouldn't be visible in a B&W photo without good lighting. I've seen "good" photos that have large brightly colored subjects that would simply be boring with out color.

    I just recently got a DSLR, after spending the past 9-10 months doing almost completely B&W film. All of my serious learning of technique has been done using B&W. So naturally, I still see things that way. I take a photo that has good lighting, good composition, nice textures and nice shapes, usually without consideration of the colors. If it turns out in post processing that the colors don't add anything, I take them out.

    Some people shoot differently, seeking out good colors, with varying degrees of concern for the other important ingredients. If they get all the other things right, find the color is not good, then do a conversion, it may work. But, if they were relying too heavily on the color making the photo good, only luck will make a good conversion.

    It has to be a good photo to start with.

    Paul

  6. #6
    Princess of the OT adina's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    90% of my stuff is b&w. However, if the file looks like crap when I pull it up, I move on to the next one. Most of the time, if the image isn't pretty good out of the camera, converting it (for me, personally) isn't going to help. Because I'll always be looking at those things that are off.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    Quote Originally Posted by dmm96452
    I believe that converting an image to b&w can add a dramatic effect to an image or enhance the emotions that it evokes but I also think that it is frequently done to images that are much better if left in color.

    I was wondering how others felt about it.
    Actually, that is not the correct approach...i.e. converting to B&W. If you are really serious about quality work in B&W, then you should be shooting B&W right from the beginning and using RAW format.

    The approach used for critiquing and judging black and white in salon competitions is judging the range of tones from black to white in the image and the quality of the transition from one tone to another. On that basis, you will have no doubt noticed that a lot of Black & White images posted here have failed to meet that requirement. To make matters even worse there is often total lack of detail in the black areas, and totally blown out white areas. That would be totally unacceptable in a competition or publishing evironment. It comes back to a basic quality standard. Does your choice of black and white over colour contribute to or detract from the overall quality and impact of your photo? .

    Of course in some cases, no centre of interest and poor technique result in an equally poor photo whether black and white or colour.

    In many examples, I have seen, the choice of black and white detracts from the photo, so yes, I would certainly agree with you. Black and white is overused and poorly used in terms of quality.

    Ronnoco

  8. #8
    Erstwhile Vagabond armed with camera Lionheart's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    Quote Originally Posted by dmm96452
    I believe that converting an image to b&w can add a dramatic effect to an image or enhance the emotions that it evokes but I also think that it is frequently done to images that are much better if left in color.

    I was wondering how others felt about it.
    "overdone"? It's a matter of favorite medium. Some like b&w, some like color prints, some like color slides, and hey, some like paint. Digital just allows you to do both color and potentially b&w at the same time.
    I'm usually shooting in color, but some images you just know are black and white in your camera's eye. I don't usually shoot specifically for b&w, but in the back of my mind I'm thinking it as I review images during the post shooting process. Images that are just awful in color often take on a different feeling in b&w, which is why I rarely delete images on reviewing. The pinetree shot here is an example. Most of the images I shot that day were really blah, but as I reviewed them, I started thinking, "What would these look like in Ansel Adams mode?" One of these days I'll go out and shoot in b&w thinking mode (although I always shoot color) and see what I get. I find b&w much more challenging compositionally, because contrast is all you have to work with, whereas color is much simpler to work with, imho. I find it harder to see the image in b&w in my mind's eye, so color is my preferred medium. But when it's done right, b&w is often more intense in its delivery or conveyance of emotion than color. just my 2 abe lincolns of course, I'm not a pro, just my thoughts based on my limited experience in b&w.
    Leon
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails B&W...over used?-pinetreesilverlake2002_resize.jpg  
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    An excellent shot, Lionheart, but there are two weaknesses: the shadow through the middle of the tree which is the most serious and the "leaves" which could be a slightly lighter tone and more separated from the background.

    Ronnoco

  10. #10
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    [QUOTE=Lionheart]"overdone"? whereas color is much simpler to work with, imho.

    Not at all. The colour of an object in the background can be extremely distracting to the centre of interest, whereas when it is simply a shade of grey, it is often barely noticeable.
    Complimentary and opposing colours on the colour wheel also are part of a colour composition and much more care is necessary in dealing with exposure, highlights and dark areas.

    Ronnoco

  11. #11
    I can't member!?!? dmm96452's Avatar
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    Re: Two different things

    Quote Originally Posted by Franglais
    When you make an image in colour you are using the colour to compose it. When you do an image in black & white you are using lighting and contrast to compose it....Charles
    This hits the nail on the head for me. Many of the shots I see posted in b&w seem composed as color shot to me or at least I believe the shot would look better in color.
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  12. #12
    I can't member!?!? dmm96452's Avatar
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    Re: Perhaps...

    Quote Originally Posted by Asylum Steve
    First of all, I don't think over used is the proper term, as color images still (and will always) far out number b&w ones. But I know what you mean......
    By over used I meant that it is done to images that I believe are better left or shot in color.
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    I can't member!?!? dmm96452's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    Quote Originally Posted by adina
    90% of my stuff is b&w....
    Any particular reason?
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  14. #14
    I can't member!?!? dmm96452's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ronnoco
    Actually, that is not the correct approach...i.e. converting to B&W. If you are really serious about quality work in B&W, then you should be shooting B&W right from the beginning and using RAW format....Ronnoco
    I've tried this before. I set my camera (20D) to b&w but when I pulled the cr2 files up in my RAW viewer or CS2 I found that the color information had been recorded and was in the image.
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  15. #15
    Erstwhile Vagabond armed with camera Lionheart's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    true, very true. but some see better in b&w than in color. I see better in color is all I was saying. Hue, chroma, and value I can work with together much more easily than value alone. In fact, value (contrast-black and white) is the one I struggle with even in color composition. In dentistry, it's the third spoke of the wheel I have a hard time with in color matching teeth when I write the lab prescription for crowns and veneers, and also when deciding which shadesof white filling material to use and in what combinations when working with anterior teeth. Hue (color) and chroma (intensity of color) comes easily to my eye, matching the value (white/black value) is my achilles heel. Probably why I don't do as well in b&w compositions, I have a hard time noticing the gradations. I don't know what the equivalent photographic terms are for hue, chroma, and value, so I'm using the ones we use in dentistry. btw, thanks for the constructive critique, every time I post that picture, someone notices something different that could be done better.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Ronnoco's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    Lionheart. It kind of brings back to mind, my one major experience with black and white was shooting dental xrays for a doctor presenting at a North American conference. Getting the "colour" correct was quite a challenge.:thumbsup:

    Ronnoco

  17. #17
    Princess of the OT adina's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    Quote Originally Posted by dmm96452
    Any particular reason?

    90% of what I do is work with children, my own and other peoples. For me, I'm not after that photos of the cute fake smiley and giant hair bow. I've found that with the method of shooting that I prefer, black and white gives me more of what I want.

    adina
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  18. #18
    Princess of the OT adina's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    plus, new babies usually get that nasty baby acne, and it's less noticable in b&w
    I sleep, but I don't rest.

  19. #19
    I can't member!?!? dmm96452's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    Quote Originally Posted by adina
    plus, new babies usually get that nasty baby acne, and it's less noticable in b&w
    Baby zits? Yuk!
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  20. #20
    Senior Member freygr's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    Just remember there are images where color is the key and conversion to B&W turns the photo from outstanding to so-so, then there are the so-so color images when converted to B&W become out standing.

    It's in the tonal quantity of the image with B&W is a good choice. You can always change a photo to B&W but a B&W image you can't change to a color image, unless the original image was color and you still have that file.
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  21. #21
    Sleep is optional Sebastian's Avatar
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    Re: B&W...over used?

    Quote Originally Posted by dmm96452
    I believe that converting an image to b&w can add a dramatic effect to an image or enhance the emotions that it evokes but I also think that it is frequently done to images that are much better if left in color.

    I was wondering how others felt about it.
    It's all about intent and what suits the current image the best.
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