Black & white or color? Your choice…

I am really starting to fall in love with black and white landscapes again. Until I picked up my printer last month, I hadn’t printed black and whites for almost thirty years. Yes, it was in the wet darkroom. Right now, the new way is definitely looking to offer more control than I ever had individually processing sheet film and dodging and burning by hand.

It really is about the control you have over the final product that’s important. That and recognizing the right conditions and pre-visualization.

I know that I “see” in color. What I mean by that is that color is an important part of my composition. As important as shapes are.

The images above are of the Athabasca River in Jasper National Park. I’ve been taking three weeks off for the past few years to spend some time up there hoping to catch autumn/early winter weather. One year it was warmer going into October than it had been all summer. It was like autumn never came. Leaves dried up and dropped. The fall colors hardly materialized. Another year saw a dump of a foot of snow in the second week of September. Of course it was all gone except for in the trees and places shaded from the sun.

This year is no different. I plan on another break for autumn shooting. It might very well be the last year I book holidays for then as I am THAT close to retirement and itching to start another chapter in my life but that’s for another time.

Before I choose to convert an image, I’ll open it in Photoshop and in the channels palette, click on each of the different channels, red, green and blue. There will usually be one channel that looks much better than the others. Reds don’t usually convert well, so if you have a scene with a lot of red in it, chances are that it won’t look too good in black and white. On the other hand, if there is a lot of blue or green then PARTY on!

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~ by Dan Jurak on January 24, 2012.

13 Responses to “Black & white or color? Your choice…”

  1. I think the sky looks much better in B&W

  2. I prefer the colour version, but then that is because the colours in the image are quite stunning.

    Where the black and white version really shines is the detail in the water and the mountains, which is lost a little in the colour version.

    I always find it a bit difficult when considering whether an image will be better as monochrome or polychrome; black and white can bring out the finer detail of an image, and highlight certain areas, but colour can also highlight areas and make things clearer.

    Ultimately, it depends on what you want your image to convey.

  3. black and white!!! :)
    my blog’s name is black and white heart. :D

  4. I think the tonal range in the black and white
    Is much wider and brings more depth. However
    The colours are beautiful In the color one.
    It is a close call! Both beautiful shots.

  5. I enjoy black and white but show me them both and given the option to only buy one, I’ll almost always pick the color image.

  6. Yes, your colors are usually astounding, but sometimes they’re just not available. If you can capture a wide range of tones, monochrome is usually a good option. For your choices here, I’d prefer the black and white. Have you heard of a plugin for Photoshop (and Lightroom) called Silver Efex Pro? If you’re interested in doing monochrome at all, it’s worth looking at. The free trial lasts a couple of weeks, long enough to know whether or not you’ll use it. After that, it’s only a couple hundred bucks, which may or may not be worth the investment depending on your artistic needs. It was worth it, for me.

  7. While I do enjoy me some black and whites, including this one, I really love the color one! The pinks and mints are beautiful.

    These two photographs provide two totally different vibes. It’s actually quite amazing how different!
    The B&W seems to be somewhat sad and desolate while the color seems to be clean and inviting.

  8. I love the subtle hues on the color version, but in my opinion black & white has the edge here.

  9. At first glance, I thought that I liked the color version better but after studying both images for a couple of minutes, the mono version kind of grew on me and I think that it works better for this particular image. Can’t really go wrong with either one though!

  10. I think I really like the subdued colour version. Love Cooper btw.

  11. Black and white!

  12. Black & white has more drama. I found about your blog because I searched black and white photos in Google.

  13. @ Abe, I agree. The black and white does it.

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