Do Black & White Images tell a better story than color images?

22 Oct 2011 admin In G+ Posts

Comments: 20

  1. Mark Yeung 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    Usually, because with b&w you are more focused on capturing the essence of the image vs color which you are trying to bring out the pops of color…. almost distracting from the object of the image

  2. Brent Burzycki 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    That's how I view it, it simplifies the image to the core of the content

  3. Leonard Oglesby 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    +Brent Burzycki I believe the key to the answer to this question lies in the story to be told.
    I find something evocative about B&W images given the right image, and "darkroom/editing SW" adjustments applied. This might be my exposure to B&W processing, starting as a 5 year old in my father's home darkroom, and then my own set up as a teenager, and now CS5 + Sliver Efex Pro2.
    Much portraiture, street photography, and some, but not all landscapes can be enhanced by a B&W rendition. Done well they can, and do set a unique mood and can imply a story beyond that captured in color.

    That said, there are also times when nothing but color will work, and B&W will lessen the impact of the image, and many times spoil a great color image. The image you shared in this thread is a perfect example. B&W, in my opinion does nothing for this image. B&W just does not fit the subject matter there.

  4. evewin lakra 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    Photos looks more true in Black & White as compared to color.

  5. Miikka Antrell 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    I would have to say that B&W and Colour pictures set the mood of the picture differently. As in B&W, contrast is the main mood setting, than in colour pictures, display of colours set the mood, not the contrast of the colour itself. Oh, and almost any not-so-great/ordinary coloured picture can be turned in to work of art by washing colours off. You can't do that other way around, now can you? 😉

  6. Leonard Oglesby 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    +Brent Burzycki BTW: the Ford truck B&W image does work very well to tell something about the truck. The other aviation shots as B&W images are missing something,

  7. Filip Farag 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    This is fantastic!

  8. Michael Barg 22 Oct 2011 Reply


  9. christian richter 22 Oct 2011 Reply


  10. Silvia Bear 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    i think in some cases they make the story come to you in a straighter way, is like the morale inside a fairy tale, the color is like an embellishment around the hidden meaning… sometimes the morale is clear with all the embellishment, sometimes there is that moment of revelation when you explain it in b&w…

  11. Paul Christopher 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    Started with B&W. Colour can be too distracting. B&W aids retention of image.

  12. Scott Sears 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    My feeling is that B&W takes the eye to more sublime contrasts in the photos caused by shadows or relief in the object or it's surroundings. I am not opposed to color but if I was only allowed to look at one from now on my choice would be B&W.

  13. Sean Galbraith 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    B&W tells a different story, and one that might be more appropriate for a given image. It does not tell a "better" story universally.

  14. Philip Venable 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    I use black and white alot. I was raised on black and white. When I was in high school and college I took photography courses but couldn't afford a color darkroom, so my dad gave me a cheap black and white enlarger for Christmas one year. I shot a lot of Tri-X back then. Now with digital I shoot in color but use the black and white conversion in Lightroom to decide weather a shot will look better in color or b&w. Sometimes I get much better detail in b&w than in color. This makes for a shot with more visual impact as the color shot may be drab or lifeless. The black and white image may "pop" with detail.

  15. Brent Burzycki 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    So now with digital – is everyone setting out to make a B&W or looking at it as a secondary option….I want to say I look at a scene and think – man this would look good in B&W – yet I shoot it in color then convert so really I get two images for the price of one….

    But am i looking at everything in B&W – not usually…

    This image:

    I set out that day to try to get cool color images – but with the weather, the fog – the distances… it just did not happen so I reverted to B&W to take a bad day and get something out of it I had not seen much off…

    If it works or not is another story.. but maybe I need to think differently about B&W ….

  16. Leonard Oglesby 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    +Brent Burzycki This is just a personal observation as I have had similar issues with air show shots, particularly when it comes to dealing with blown out sky and high contrasts. As you have remarked there are many times B&W renditions are one way of recovering or producing images which in color would be ready to be trashed.

    I believe the beauty of shooting RAW is the flexibility you have for rethinking how you go about post processing. There are times when that flexibility can lead you down other roads, such as duo-tone effects, desaturation effects, and many others all of which can tell a different story from the same file.

    The big mistake that some can make is to religiously produce B&W renditions from images totally unsuitable for the treatment, when a different approach might be better.

    Here is a comparison of three renditions of the same image, and each expresses a different mood and feel, and if you will, story.

  17. Brent Burzycki 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    +Leonard Oglesby 3 good shots and 3 different stories as you say….

    So then RAW becomes the negatives we used in the past and it just is the fact that this new negative can do much more… it can be B&W, Color – have up to 6 stops of correction, can be manipulated in millions of ways yet not be harmed….

  18. Leonard Oglesby 22 Oct 2011 Reply


  19. Leonard Oglesby 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    +Brent Burzycki Just to punctuate what I was saying, here is a different 3 shot comparison. This has the unprocessed NEF, a color rendition and a B&W version converted with Silver Efex Pro 2.

  20. Brent Burzycki 22 Oct 2011 Reply

    +Leonard Oglesby thats a good explanation of what many that start shooting RAW see and are not happy with… as in saturated images…. clearly just like working in the darkroom – there needs to be changes made before printing….

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