Colour vs B&W

Black and White vs Colour

Next Tuesday, I will be taking part in a discussion panel at the RA Camera Club in Ottawa, the topic is “Black and White vs Colour”.  Notice that the wording in the topic is “vs” which hints that it just might be a little confrontational, sort of like the Saints vs Colts or the Senators vs Leafs.  The guidelines for the presentation are: Where, Why, When and How? Is one better than the other? Where is each best suited?

From my perspective I don’t think that one approach is better than the other, it’s not an either-or situation. Having said that, there are certain times, depending on the subject and what I’m trying to convey with that image, that I do think one is better.   For some pictures I like every possible variation that I can produce from a single image. These variations range from  colours that are vivid and over-saturated, to colours which are soft and muted, or to one of the many variations done in Black & White,  infrared, sepia or toned. I am quite sure that most photographers have their own personal preferences and probably accepts both approaches. There are, however, photographers who want to distinguish and separate themselves from others, and who strongly believe that photography should be carried out only in one medium, Black & White or colour.  I, for one, am not one of  them.  I can appreciate the merits of both.

It was just a few short years ago that you would have had to make a conscious decision before you took the shot whether it was going to be B&W or colour. Some photographers had 2 camera bodies, one for B&W and the other for colour. Today, shooting digital raw files gives you the opportunity in post processing for either colour and/or B&W images. Isn’t life great!

What’s your preference – Colour or Black and White?

One Response to “Colour vs B&W”

  1. Lewis Kemper says:

    Though photography started out as a black-and-white medium, color now rules the day. Still there are times when only a black-and-white photo can adequately communicate a photographer’s intent, but, there are subtleties to consider. The absence of color makes a black-and-white photo more reliant upon its shadows and highlights.

    Garry, I do agree with you that shooting digitally does put a new twist on the concept of black-and-white shooting. The digital darkroom gives more control to photographers than they ever had before; beginning with the way the image is first shot -in color.