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Shooting for Color or Other Design Elements

Despite our own, personal preferences what is it that determines whether a particular image is better suited to reproduction as a black and white or color photograph.

A good indication is what attracted you to the subject in the first place? Where you drawn in by the color or by other design elements such as tone, texture, line or shape.

Assuming you’re happy working with programs like Adobe Lightroom and/or Photoshop it’s always best, when using a digital camera, to shoot in color and then convert the image into black and white on the desktop. This gives you the option of going back to your original color image, if the black and white rendering doesn’t work out for you. It’s great insurance.

And even though you can move and manipulate pixels to the extend of greatly influencing the tonality by which each individual color is rendered in black and white, it’s still a good idea to compose you image to ensure tones, textures, line and shape are used in such a way to direct the viewers attention through the frame. Repetition of the design element in question is a great way to lead them on that journey.

Canon 5D Camera with Canon 180mm f3.5 Macro L series USM Lens

Canon 5D Camera with Canon 180mm f3.5 Macro L series USM Lens


Canon 180mm f3.5 Macro L series USM Lens

Canon 180mm f3.5 Macro L series USM Lens

The shot of the rooftop was made while taking a workshop on Landscape Photography. It’s really just a detail of a corrugated iron roof that covered an old shed. While I was initially attracted by the color of the iron, I thought the structure offered opportunities for exploration in both color and black and white. I stood slightly to one side so as to emphasize the shape and textural qualities of the structure. I employed a Canon 5D Camera with a Canon 180mm f3.5 L series USM Macro lens, together with a relatively narrow Depth of Field (DOF), to enable me to isolate one area of the roof from its surroundings and create the illusion that foreground and background elements appeared somewhat closer together than the were in reality. This impression of compression is a hallmark of telephoto lenses.

So, while the color version displays beautiful warm greens, the black and white version might do a slightly better job of emphasizing tonal contrast and the structural elements of the roofing material. It might also be worthwhile determining which of the two produces a more abstract rendering. The one that does is usually the one that holds the viewer’s attention longer. And surely that’s of critical importance.


© Copyright All Rights Reserved

Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography


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