Color in photographs not only grabs our attention, but can also set a mood. When there is bright, bold color in an image we notice it right away and that's what usually stands out in our mind above all else. It can be a great tool for a photographer to bring attention to his subject.
On the flip side, it can also prevent us from seeing the subject or even the story that the photographer might have wanted us to see. Bold color can prevent us from seeing other elements in the image as well. There are times when color can also give the wrong impression. The author of the book we are following for this project points out that if you are documenting a tragic event and there is bright, cheery color in the image, the viewer might be pulled in the wrong direction emotionally creating imbalance as to how they should feel.
Below are some examples to help show you a little of what I'm thinking when I decide whether or not to create a black and white image over a color one.
This image was taken in Germany where dogs are allowed literally everywhere. (It made me smile seeing so many.) :O) Move the slider so that you see the full color image. Now, name the first 3 things that you notice when you glance at this photo. When I look at this image the first thing I notice is the bold red color; the table. If I think out loud about what I'm seeing, the second thing I notice is the men inside the shop because the red color leads me right to them. It's only after seeing these things that I finally see the dog. Now, move the slider so that you see the b&w image. When I look at this image I see two things equally. . . the dog and the coca-cola logo. This makes sense because the black dog stands out on the light background and the white logo stands out on the dark table. These two elements have equal weight and are even on the same level with each other. The men in the shop are almost un-noticeable as my eye is not led to them by anything else.
In color, this image to me, is one of a dog taking a nap. Simple as that; he looks content. When I look at it in b&w I see a "street dog" without a home of his own and he looks kind of sad and lonely to me. It's the grungy textures that are more noticeable in b&w that change the mood of the image.
This adorable little guy wows everyone with his blue eyes. His eyes are the first thing I notice when I see the color image. When I change to b&W I see a white puppy and I now notice the stars below his paw where I didn't notice them before. I also see that he has a patch over one eye that I didn't notice before. (Did anyone else move the slider back and forth specifically to see what color that patch was? ) In color, I see his eyes and pretty much of stop looking after that. I would remember this image as a puppy with beautiful bright blue eyes. But, in b&w my eye is led from his face, to his big puppy paws and then the stars. With the absence of color I see more elements in the photo that I might otherwise miss.
There are any number of reasons to create images in color and just as many reasons to create in b&w. I love color. I wear bright colors and I have bright colored walls in my home. But, when it comes to photographs I have this thing for black & whites. So, color or b&w . . . it's a matter of choice, and both are right . . . The best part is, because you are the artist/photographer, you get to choose. ;O)
If you'd like to see other Project 52 photographers thoughts about black and white photography start with Future Framed Photography, South Dakota. Each blog post will direct you to the next in the project circle.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend!