Deciding between Color or B&W(warning: image heavy)

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by dylandingo, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. dylandingo

    dylandingo Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 12, 2011
    La Crosse, WI
    For awhile I was processing almost every photo I kept in black and white with Silver Efex pro 2.0 but lately I have been enjoying color more(Color Efex 3.0 may of started that) and I can't decide what I enjoy more for some of my photos.

    So I guess I want to ask two questions here, one being which version of my photos do you think works best, and two, how do you decide between color and black and white when you edit your work?

    Hannah in color

    Hannah in B&W

    Farm Hands in color

    Farm Hands in B&W

    Behind the Scenes in color

    Behind the Scenes in B&W

    Blooms in color

    Blooms in B&W
  2. melonbread

    melonbread Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 27, 2012
    Melbourne, Australia.
    Real Name:
    I love the first, third and fourth pictures in colour. The second, with the hands, I think is a stunning black and white ^^

    Just my two cents - they're all beautiful though.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Real Name:
    Interesting question. I would keep the color in the first, I like the colors and they complement the lady well. In the second, B&W is somehow grittier, which seems to work better with the subject. The third is to busy for me to use B&W, I prefer color to seperate the people from /the background. I prefer the B&W in the last - it highlights the seed pod more effectively.
    For me, it depends on the subject and what I want to emphasize. Sometimes, B&W just works better for that purpose.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hannah - color. She just seems to have much more life and personality i the color shot
    Farm Hands - B&W This has sort of a gritty look to it that works better in B&W
    Behind - Neither really. But the busy background is less distracting in the B&W version
    Blooms - B&W. In the color shot, the green background draws your eye away from the nearly B&W blooms.

    I'm not sure I have any real rules to decide. Images without a lot of color to start with often look better with all the color removed. Shots with a lot of contrast often work better in B&W. Images that have, or would work well, with a gritty kind of quality frequently work better in B&W. In street photography, a busy background may distract less if converted to B&W (but sometimes the background color makes the image. Night shots are sometimes good candidates, but sometimes the color (neon lights, for example) are the important part of the image.

    And a lot of it depends on how you see the world. In general, I find color better fits m vision most of the time. Using LR, it's easy enough to do a quick B&W conversion to decide if that's worth pursuing.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. dylandingo

    dylandingo Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 12, 2011
    La Crosse, WI
    Thank you all for your replies. I think I agree with all of you now about Hannah being in color and keeping 'farm hands' in it's gritty b&w. Now the last two is where most of you guys disagreed but I think I agree with the fact that 'Behind the Scenes' has a less distracting background in b&w and the seed pods in 'Blooms' stand out more in b&w because they are already so faint compared to the leaves.
  6. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    B&W or colour once would have onve had practical implications, nowadays it's just an aesthetic decision. I tend to use B&W where I don't like the natural colours or I find that they are distracting. In your examples I'd choose

    1) Colours are vibrant and appealing
    2) B&W reveals textures and contrast better
    3) Colour. In B&W there is little separation between the subjects and the background
    4) 50:50. Muted colours are nice, but the flowers stand out a little more in B&W
    • Like Like x 2
  7. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    You B&W's have better tone and communicate better than the color. (But I'm a B&W guy).

    • Like Like x 1
  8. clockwise

    clockwise Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 23, 2012
    New York, NY
    Real Name:
    Brian R
    To me, if the color isn't an integral and necessary part of the composition then the image is almost always better off in B&W. In my own work the color usually isn't integral or necessary, but that's probably due to my own failings in understanding and implementing the principles of color theory.

    For some excellent examples, check out the link in this post from The Online Photographer: The Online Photographer: Random Excellence: Gueorgui Pinkhassov

    Of course, the guy who made these images is super-human and we mere mortals shouldn't hold ourselves to his standard, but in each of the color images, the color itself is an integral compositional element whose removal would severely detract from the image. Frankly, I think that's the proper benchmark for determining whether an image ought to be color or monochrome.
  9. spinyman

    spinyman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 19, 2010
    San Diego
    Oh,my, That guy's color set is extraordinary.