I have spent some time lately thinking some more about whether I prefer to make Black & White (B&W) or color pictures. This is also related to some of my previous thoughts about which format I prefer and in both cases I have shown some B&W pictures and I have used square, 4×3, and 16×9 formats at various times. While there will always be special cases that require a different format or color or B&W or some two-tone processing, I am trying to establish a style for the bulk of my pictures. I have already decided that for my travel pictures, which are used primarily in slide/video shows, that I prefer color pictures displayed in the 16×9 format; but what about for my other pictures?
Today, I decided to take a simple shot that could easily go either way … color or B&W. It is a simple picture of the sky as seen through a tree out in the front of my house. The following is the color version with minimal processing in LR4.
I next wanted to see what it looked like in B&W so I used LR4 to convert it, again with minimal processing.
What do you think? I can see myself using either picture depending on the mood, etc. that I’m trying to display.
In addition to using LR4 to convert to B&W, I also have Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 software for creating B&W pictures. Lately I have tried to create a B&W picture using only LR4 to see if I could match the effects that I had previously generated with Silver Efex Pro 2 and so far I haven’t been able to do it. That might be the subject of another article. That software can create some wondrous effects either by using the presets alone, or by modifying the presets, or by just using the sliders to tune the picture anyway you like. So far, I’m of the belief that its adjustments go way beyond what can be accomplished with only LR4.
Based on the above, I wanted to try a different version of the above picture that had been processed with Silver Efex Pro 2. The following is just one of many styles that can be created. As you will note, I tried to pull out the finer wisps of cloud in this version to create more details … very easily done with this software.
Setting aside the issue of modifying a picture to establish a specific mood, which of these do you find more pleasing? I’m still seeking an answer to whether there is a style that I prefer. I’m leaning towards using square formats and B&W for more of my pictures but I haven’t yet found a style of B&W that I prefer.
When I search the web to see what others are doing, I still find lots of B&W pictures. Mostly I find them used for fine art photography and for street photography. Many of the old masters in this art displayed all of their work in B&W. One of the better web sites in which I like the use of B&W can be found here. Unfortunately, it is a Leica site and the particular style of B&W pictures might be, probably is, a function of the camera & lens and the use of the Leica B&W jpeg rendering. Hmmm, many of the old masters also used Leica cameras … is the answer the camera? I hope the answer isn’t totally the camera. I still have other techniques to pursue while I seek my answer.