Random thoughts

To B (&W) or not to B (&W)

A subject that has been much discussed, ever since the introduction of colour photography I suspect, is the relative merits of shooting in B&W (or monochrome if you prefer) as opposed to, or instead of colour.

My own preference is, for the majority of situations, to at least compose and shoot in B&W. By this I mean that I set up my camera to show me the B&W image in the viewfinder. My view, and past experience would seem to bear this out, is that if the image looks good that way then it’s likely to be ok as a RAW colour image as well unless there is dominant distracting (as opposed to focal point) colour in the image.

There are, of course, going to be occasions when colour will be the preferred option, but it is, to me a useful step in the image taking process (Note, not the editing process) to think B&W.

Perhaps the most obvious place (again as far as I am concerned) is shooting gigs, particularly with all the lighting variations you now get on stage. I like that you are not distracted by the hue of the performers skin because of the green lighting or any other unnatural colour. But even in portrait and landscape work there is, in my view, a case for B&W as compared to the “natural” colours. There is of course a whole philosophical debate to be had about individual colour perception.

There have been examples of feature films shot in colour also having a B&W version available, films such as The Mist; Mad Max,Thunder Road and Logan spring to mind and in the first example it’s fascinating to see how your perception is changed of the film to that of a 50’s B movie monster picture (although I should say the quality if the film is way above the majority from that genre.)

In the final analysis it is down to personal choice, but if you have the option to view you prospective images in black and white then it might be worth considering having a look?

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