Thursday, August 28, 2008

Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other

I've posted a shot of these old spiral steps at the downtown YWCA before, but this is a different angle. I'm also looking at the differences between a color and a black and white image. Some discussion of this on Snapper's excellent blog got me thinking: what are the advantages of using color or black and white, and how does one choose in each situation. So I tried this experiment with the stairs. I like those tendrils of green climbing up the railing in color, but I also like the crumbling concrete in the B&W. Any opinions on the pros and cons in these photos would be most welcome.

I have had my digital camera for one year now, have been pointing and shooting with auto settings and getting comfortable with what my camera can and can't do. Maybe it's time to at least dip a little toe into the world of manual settings. Cartier-Bresson once said your first 10,000 photos are your worst. That actually gives me something to look forward to! I reckon I have about 8,000 to go.


Laurie said...

I think you can make a case for either one. The shot in color, especially if you shot on a high saturation setting or brought up more of the color with your editing software, it is all about those rosy bricks and green tendrils. In black and white it becomes, for me, a study in shape and curve. If you were to play with the contrast a little in the b&w shot I think these things would become even more pronounced.

Snapper's blog has really got me thinking about my own almost pathological need to shoot black and white. It's as if I really see better that way! I've made a point to really explore color since I began playing with digital photography. It's nice not to have to deal with labs or darkrooms. Back in my 35mm film days, I never developed my own color prints but was quite happy in a b&w darkroom.

I like both of these, Knox, but I may be leaning toward the color shot because it is warmer and deeper. That's just my preference, though, and I'm certainly no expert!

angela said...

I have to admit that while I enjoy the elegance of b&w, colour does it for me everytime. It's something to do with the warmth and the light. I find your colour photo much more pleasing to the eye

Abraham Lincoln said...

I like color after spending an eternity using black and white and doing everything from developing to printing. I don't want to go back to that but I do like to turn a digital into a black and white.

You talked about 8,000 to go. My wife and I spent some considerable time today adding up all of my digital photos. It is over 40,000 that I have now. Think of it.

Next we want to go through them and break them down into one thing like Coopers Hawks. I have several thousand just hummingbirds. It is amazing.

Louis la Vache said...

"Louis" finds this to be an interesting subject. As Laurie wrote, the b&w emphasizes the geometry of the composition. In this case, "Louis" votes for the b&w.

Virginia said...

Well I am a fence sitter on this one. I think Laurie's right, fiddle with the contrast etc on the BW and you might like it even better. The color is really nice though. The ivy is hard to beat. This color BW "thang" is fun. I went out on a limb for my photo tomorrow too.

Petrea said...

A very interesting discussion.

In this case, I'd say the color works best, for the reason already mentioned: contrast. In color, you have all colors to work with. In B&W you're working with variations on two colors (black and white), so the contrasts are what give you shapes and interest. See how the green pops in the color photo, and how you lose the bushes on the right in the B&W.

This is particular to this photo, of course. It's a different decision with every picture. 40,000 of them for Abe, for example. Whew!