Saturday, December 6, 2014

Colorless December ... Black and White's intensity

There is a reason street photographers are in love with black and white, and it has nothing to do with it being the medium of Eisenstaedt or Weegee.

By removing the color, you are left with intensity. Stark looks force you to concentrate on the subject and ignore surroundings.

In color, that would be a guy sitting in a chair on a nice spring day, green grass, little wildflowers and pink buds on the tree branch. Is that the same photo as the one you see here?

In color you get the gold of the morning light, and it changes the whole mood of the photo. Editorializing? Yes. Everything about taking a photo is about making decisions, from before you take it (what lens or gear you take, where you go) to when you take it (angle, settings) to what you do with it afterward. All of these are conscious decisions you make--whether you know it or not--for every single photo you take.

Here is another example. In color, you might not notice that the stroller is empty, the sky was a beautiful gold and blue. Did I set out to take this one? No, but I was ready when it happened, and recognized the moment and how to treat it. Of course, in this case, it was on black and white film, so there was not a lot of option.

Are there exceptions? Of course. Sometimes color is so compelling and part of the story you need it. Spring flowers look fine in black and white, but they are quite a different photo in full color, so are sunsets, and fall colors, and fireworks displays.

So, decisions are made, whether you are aware of them or not. So be aware of them, and take control of your images.

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