The Sleeping Giant's Sea Lion

by Jakub

submit your photo


Hall of Fame
View past winners from this year

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Take the 2-minute tour ×
Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I think at first it was because of a limitation of the cameras present at the time, but with the color cameras that we have available now, what do you think of black and white photos?

In other words, what does a photo being black and white visually suggest as opposed to the same picture in color?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

Yes definitely.. people have their own reason why they do it. Ansel Adams was definitely the master of B&W. For more recent example check out Chase Jarvis' Seattle 100: http://s100.chasejarvis.com/

Personally I convert a picture to B&W when color is proving to be more a distraction or if it doesn't really contribute much to the theme of the picture..

share|improve this answer

Do Ansel Adams' photos make sense today? Obviously they are. There are not many photographers who can produce color images of the Yosemite valley as good as Adams did in B&W.

Mostly, the choice of B&W is artistic, rather technical. The link provided in the comments to the question suggests many of the considerations.

share|improve this answer

Sure, it does, and in some circles, it's still pretty popular. I just did a quick survey of the photos currently on exhibition on 1X.com, and there are around a dozen B&W (or monochrome) photos there out of 32 on that page. These guys tend to favor highly-processed fine art photos, but this still gives some idea that there's enough B&W photography going on that it's still relevant.

One difference with B&W today vs. "way back when" -- I'd bet that the overwhelming majority of these photos were shot in color (very likely RAW) and converted to B&W. The power of processing software like Photoshop and Lightroom provide you with some awesome tools to control how your photo is converted.

When I see B&W photos that work well, they tend to be fairly simple in one way or another -- maybe they've got a single subject (a person, for instance) or they show a scene that's dominated by a single color (a forest picture that's all shades of green). Good candidates also have a lot of contrast in them -- this contrast can stand out better in the photo when color is removed (think about how the colors in your scene can map to black, white, and grey).

share|improve this answer

I think there are subjects and shots that work much better in monochrome than in color. There are others that don't.

For pictures where the color itself is a major component of the picture (e.g., rainbows, sunsets) color is essentially always preferable.

In other cases, however, a monochrome image can can eliminate distractions and do a much better job of portraying the real essence of the shot. Just for one example, I find this is often true of portraits -- most of the color in such a case will be the people's clothes, so monochrome often helps emphasize the person over what they're wearing.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 Agreed, the effects that you can get out of the shadows and contrast can be stunning when done right. –  RiddlerDev Jun 5 '11 at 16:05
    
As you said, in portrait photography I find it preferable in many situations. Wedding photography is almost always fantastic in b&w. –  dpollitt Jun 5 '11 at 18:48
    
interesting take on portraits, very true. –  JoséNunoFerreira Jun 5 '11 at 22:33

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.