FROM COLOUR TO BLACK AND WHITE

By:  Buzz of the Orient  •  one week ago  •  24 comments

FROM COLOUR TO BLACK AND WHITE
 

Leave a comment to auto-join group CREATIVE ARTS ON THE NEWSTALKERS

CREATIVE ARTS ON THE NEWSTALKERS

FROM COLOUR TO BLACK AND WHITE

Notwithstanding the reversal of that direction that progress has created, sometimes black and white better illustrates the photographer's intent and/or better directs the attention of the viewer.

Many years ago black and white photos were much more common than they are today, no different than with movies. One reason may have been cost, another ease of processing in home darkrooms, or the limitations of yesteryear's colour reproduction. But today digital cameras have almost totally eclipsed film, wherein colours are considerably better displayed. Most of today's digital cameras are set for colour (some do have the feature of a setting for taking photos in B&W) but usually removal of colour from the photos (de-saturating the colour) is done by means of computer progams once the photos are downloaded (or is it uploaded? - I could never figure that out). In this article you will learn some of the reasons why we de-saturate.

I posted this article eight years ago on the Creative Arts group, and thought that since it was most likely seen by very few of today's NT members, perhaps there are now others who might benefit from it if they spend any time at all on photography and would like to improve their technique. I have made some additions and amendments to the original article.

The following paragraph was the introduction to the original article.


Taking the lead from A.Mac, whose concept was a revelation to me, I have gone through some of my colour shots and de-saturized them, while also gearing up the contrast for more distinct delineation between the darks and lights. For each photo I have posted first of all the original colour shot, followed by the B&W created from it, explaining my feelings about what was accomplished by doing so. Thanks for that idea, A.Mac. You have opened up a whole new avenue for me to play with.

1 (a) This is a 1500 year old tree. The red banners and lanterns have been hung on it for good luck (not for the tree, but for the persons hanging them).

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1 (b) Lacking the distraction of the red hangings, the focus is now on the tree itself. in particular the Medusa-styled roots.

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2 (a) Despair personified, but the colour reduces the depth of the despair.

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2 (b) The absence of colour accentuates the emotion. It was not until recently that I came to the realization that the subject may not have been experiencing despair, but noting her head scarf could be a Muslim who did not wish for me, a male person, to see her face.

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3 (a) Because of its vivid colour, the boat is the primary focus when you view this picture.

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3 (b) Your eyes turn quickly to the geese in this case, arousing curiosity as to what they are doing.

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4 (a) One might think I took this photo in the wild west, but it was in a small park behind a museum in Nanning, Guanxi Autonomous Region near the south of China.

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4 (b) In this case, the better photo is probably the colour one, because it is difficult to make the subject stand out from the background without the benefit of contrasting colour. A heavier hand on the contrast and a touch of saturation was necessary here.

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5 (a) Colour makes this photo current but that does not match the subject, which is retrospective.

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5 (b) Now this definitely looks like a much older photo, taken perhaps in the 19th century, which is a better context for the subject matter.

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6 (a) In this case, colour does provide good contrast against the mist (pollution?). Your focus is on the flowers.

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6 (b) Now it is more probable that your eye is drawn past the flowers to the distant hills shrouded in mist.

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7 (a) What appears most attractive here could be the pink-flowered bush.

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7 (b) Now the structure and the vines are the main focus, without the distraction of the flowered bush. So the transition of the photos from colour to black and white can make a considerable difference, virtually changing the perspective and concept.

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8 (a) That (no. 7) was not the best example of erasing a distraction. In this photo, the bright blue colour in the upper left corner is most likely the first thing to which your eye takes you.

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8 (b) By de-saturating the colour the distraction is eliminated.

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9 (a) A further example of eliminating a distraction, which is behind the tree on the left, may or may not be desirable...

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9 (b) ...because eliminating the colour in this case also eliminates the prominence and beauty of the tree itself.

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10 (a) This gravestone is surrounded by green vegetation.

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10 (b) But if the intention is to illustrate morbidity, spookiness or the "colourlessness" of death then it should not be coloured.  Believe it or not, this photo actually won me a prize.

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11 (a) To illustrate the coldness of winter, although the scene surrounding my wife is relatively muted, the colourful clothes she is wearing make it seem as if she is quite warm.

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11 (b) But if the intent is to indicate coldness, then colour should be eliminated.

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12 (a( There could be an intent to imitate a vintage or antique photo. Colour like this would most likely not have been available back in those days.

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12 (b) Of course it is important that the subject matter be consistent with the era that one wishes to depict. It would be unreal for a vintage photo to show a car manufactured in 2018, or people using cell phones. To create a vintage or antique photos there are other applications for the purpose, for example sepia-toning, and with certain computer programs apply even more ways of ageing.

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And I'll leave you with a prime example of why B&W is best if one wants to create a feeling of spookiness....

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Buzz of the Orient
1  author  Buzz of the Orient    one week ago

Hoping to help you take great photos.

 
 
 
Kavika
2  Kavika     one week ago

Thanks Buzz that was very informative.

The photos were excellent at showing the difference in B@W vs color.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2.1  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Kavika @2    one week ago

It's the first of a series I will be doing. Next one will be an instruction on cropping.  I wish that members who like to take photos would become more confident about their efforts and start posting photos for all of us to enjoy.

 
 
 
A. Macarthur
4  A. Macarthur    one week ago

These articles are of great value for anyone at any level of photographic experience; a full color photograph does not always do its subject justice, in that color can actually distract from more crucial elements such as composition, texture, tonality and "feeling" or "mood."

Beyond that, each incremental desaturation of an original color photo potentially affects how one's vision is affected, and thus, correspondingly, one's overt or subtle response.

Good work, Buzz.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
4.1  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  A. Macarthur @4    one week ago

Well, at least my attempt to be helpful may have been of use to a few people, although from the comments posted I wonder if there are that many who appreciated it.  As the Talmud says, "Who saves one life saves the world entire" (as engraved into the gold ring given by Itzhak Stern to Oscar Schindler in the movie Schindler's List) so if only one person can improve their photography skills from this I will have accomplished something.

 
 
 
dave-2693993
5  dave-2693993    one week ago

Thank you for this article Buzz and great pictures.

Although all of my actual cameras have the ability to shoot in B&W, I have never experimented with it. Now I am thinking of playing with it.

Out of curiosity I checked the phones cameras and although various different instructions on the internet insist there are several settings which will take B&W, my phone doesn't support any of the suggested instructions.

However, I found one tip online about photo editing of the photos in the gallery. Bingo, that works.

Side note: Upload vs download. Either can be correct depending on your perspective. Also, the word transfer works. Although, there was once a time I designed and wrote custom data comm interfaces for the DoD, using the same DARPA protocol inferred by some of Al Gore's comments about the internet (hey, maybe I invented the internet too?!), I have noticed some have become sticklers about about the terms. In the end it depends on your perspective.

To me, my computer is "home". I "upload" things to the ether universe and "download" things from the ether universe. When it comes to peripheral things (e.g. my camera) I transfer things. In my mind some create unnecessary hair splitting when trying to enforce upload and download terminologies when it comes to those types of transfers.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
6  author  Buzz of the Orient    one week ago

Thanks Dave. Now I don't have to worry about what I call moving photos from my camera to my computer.  I TRANSFER them.  Perfect.

 
 
 
Dulay
7  Dulay    one week ago

I used to shoot with Tri-X during my 'architectural' period. Tri-X has the best range from blackest black the pure white IMHO. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
7.1  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Dulay @7    one week ago

And it was a very fast film as well, used when fast shutter speeds were required, although results could be a little grainier than when other films, such as Plus X, were used. 

 
 
 
evilgenius
8  evilgenius    6 days ago

You know me, Buzz. I love my B&Ws.

 
 
 
dave-2693993
9  dave-2693993    6 days ago

Alright, so i took these with my Galaxy S7 camera for a couple good mates in Australia who recently rode out some 50+ C* weather to help cool them down.

They are not artistic such as you, Mack a EG would do with similar subject and really, I don't know what to do with the saturation. Or is it even worth is it worth the effort?

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Buzz of the Orient
9.1  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  dave-2693993 @9    6 days ago

If you would permit me, I would do some work on your photos to show you that they were worth your effort, and I'll explain everything I've done, and why.

 
 
 
dave-2693993
9.1.1  dave-2693993  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @9.1    6 days ago

That would be great Buzz. I would appreciate that.

Thank you.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
10  author  Buzz of the Orient    6 days ago

Okay Dave, here goes. I did not do this as a reply because it would reduce the size of the photos.

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What I did there was first of all crop a bit off the sides (but still maintaining enough of the ice-covered branches on the left and the house on the right) and cropped the distracting white blocks at the bottom, all in order to expand the photo so that the house becomes more prominent as a focus.  The branches on the left lead your eye to the house.  I de-saturated all colour from the photo as there was very little coluor which caused an unattractive slight muddiness to the darker parts.  I sharpened the photo a little and lightened it to make the snow whiter but increased the contrast as well, which also makes the darker objects darker and the white colours whiter.  I then framed the photo with shades from the photo. 

The ice on the branches is one of the things I really miss seeing, as it happened occasionally in Ontario, but it is especially beautiful when the sun shines on them on a very cold day after a freezing rain storm and turns the world into a crystal paradise.

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For this photo it was necessary to crop the photo in half because it left too much white space in between the branch at the bottom and the main subject at the top.  Also, for balance, I cropped a little off the left so that the green trees would be fairly equally balanced by the barren ones.  Had you stooped low behind that branch on the bottom to take the photo it would have left a lot less bare white space in the middle and would have provided some depth to the photo.  I then actually saturated the colour more in order to provide a better colour to the green trees, sharpened the photo a little and adjusted the exposure, brightness and increased the contrast to provide greater contrast between the snow and the trees. I then framed the photo with dark green and grey to match the colours of the photo.

Who said you aren't as artistic as A.Mac, E.G. or me?  Your photos are excellent, and I'll bet A.Mac and E.G. will agree with me.

 
 
 
dave-2693993
10.1  dave-2693993  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @10    6 days ago

They look great Buzz.

I need to learn how to see the diamond in the rough as you folks can.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
10.1.1  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  dave-2693993 @10.1    5 days ago

The diamond is there in your photos, you just need to learn how to separate it from the rough and I'll bet you can do it. 

 
 
 
dave-2693993
10.1.2  dave-2693993  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @10.1.1    5 days ago

I stopped to take a couple more ice photos this morning while the sun was out. I going to play with them and see whatI come up with in the next day.

Stay tuned.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
10.1.3  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  dave-2693993 @10.1.2    5 days ago

I will.  LOL

 
 
 
dave-2693993
10.1.4  dave-2693993  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @10.1.3    4 days ago

Alright, the day following the the previous photos, I saw this scene not very far around the corner from me. Think of this as a little mini series as different techniques are tried.

I will start with the original photo. There is a groups of trees still covered in ice and the sun is rising above. A ridge of other trees directly to the east had protected the subject matter from direct sunlight for a while preserving the ice on the subject trees.

Now, something else I want to work with a little later on is our main road leading to our town towards the left and "Babylon" south and to the right. I like the scene of that road, but for now want to take it out. I call it Fire and Ice. Unfortunately the resolution is messed up as there is a problem with transferring the image directly to my computer so i had to email it which, unfortunately reduced the resolution by a lot. Nonetheless this is the starting point.

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First I cropped it to zero in of the trees:

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Then desaturated completely. I played with contrast, but put it back to original.

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The plan is to play with more effects to see what happens, then turn attention to the road between town and Babylon. I would have used bedlam, but that was my grandfathers term for Baltimore. lol.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
11  author  Buzz of the Orient    4 days ago

Okay Dave, you're getting it.  Good job.  Now, the first thing is to use the right technique to post photos in your comment or article.  Once you have saved the photo to your photo library, and done your editing, then the next thing to do before posting your photo is to enter some text at the top of your comment window.  Once you have entered your text, click "Enter" on your keypad once or twice, then click on the little film strip just to the left of the smiley in the options banner at the top of your comment window. That opens a page called "Embed Local Media".  Of course you will choose to click on "Upload an Image" in the banner at the top of the window.  That will open another page with options.  The second line of options consists of 4 different things: size, position, margin, image.  For size, choose "512".  For position chose "Normal". For margin choose "none", and then for "image" just click "select...." and that will open your photo library and you then either click twice on the photo you choose to post, or click once on it and then click "Open" at the bottom right of your page.  Your photo will now post under your text.  When you click on your photo you will notice that on each corner of it there is a little square.  You click and hold a little square and slide towards the centre of the photo to reduce the size of your photo to fit the page or if the photo posts too small on the page, slide the little square on an angle outwards. If you see that your photo has run off the window to the right do not be concerned because you can use the little squares on the left to reduce it.  Try to adjust the photo so it fits in the window so that you do not have to scroll down to see the whole photo.  Once the photo is posted and you want to post some text or another photo, then you will see just outside the bottom of the right of the photo a flashing "I" so you just have to click "enter" on your keyboard to bring the cursor under the photo - I would click twice to keep a good space.

If you are copying a photo to paste on your page rather than a saved photo, still click "Enter" once or twice after your introductory text, and then paste the photo, then continue to adjust the size as I've described above. 

What I have done is take you through the whole procedure although you have done most of it yourself already. What I have put into bold font are the things that you did NOT do, which is why your text comes down the side of your photo, and your photos are jammed together.

I note that there are telephone poles and wires in your photos.  That can either pose a problem by being an extraneous and distracting element to your photo, or they can be beneficial if used to form leading lines down the road which also makes a good photo - your choice.  I am posting photos taken from yours to illustrate those two possibilities. First using the road, wires and poles to form leading lines.

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For my second one, there is little that I can do to improve on what you did - you did a pretty good job with your cropping, but I cropped it a little more off the sides to get rid of the telephone pole which became the focus of your picture.  It was more important to make the ice-covered trees more important, leaving the pine tree for balance. 

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Buzz of the Orient
11.1  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @11    3 days ago

On thinking about it, it's possible that this particular photo looks better if it's NOT de-saturated.  What do you think, Dave?  In this case I actually saturated the colour a little, darkened it a bit and just a touch of contrast.

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dave-2693993
11.1.1  dave-2693993  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @11.1    2 days ago

I kind of agree Buzz. I wanted to experiment with the black and white, yet the color wakes it up a little.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
11.1.2  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  dave-2693993 @11.1.1    2 days ago

I think it may be because the ice-covered branches stand out better with a blue sky background rather than with a light grey one.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
11.1.3  author  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @11.1.2    23 hours ago

And for some reason the wires don't seem to appear so prominent in the colour version.

 
 
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