Rad A. Drew Photography: When Does B&W Say More than Color?

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Monday, May 25, 2015

When Does B&W Say More than Color?

Have you ever debated with yourself over whether to print or share an image in color or B&W? What contributes to your decision to chose one over the other?

I don’t always know the answer to that question and often go on my gut, but this week I made an image that seemed to me to be a no brainer decision for B&W. I’d like to show you the image and then explain why it works so well for me in B&W. This is just my opinion, so I’d love to hear what others think.

Here is the original color image:

It’s a subject near and dear to my heart: a barn scene with tall grass, worn siding, green of spring in the foreground, a strip of yellow mustard weed, and puffs of white clouds in a blue sky.

When I look at this image, it’s the color that is figural, that stands out for me. The graphics of the image take a backseat to the striking color.

But then, I converted to B&W and I saw a different, and to my mind, more powerful image. A hint of cepiatone gives the image a  nostalgic look.

The absence of color allows the image's dramatic graphic lines to become more figural. If you let your eye follow those lines in all the directions they are going, you can imagine a host of intersections occurring throughout the image.

The path of black sky between the clouds, the vertical lines of the long grass in the left foreground, the siding and the door, the diagonal roofline echoed by the diagonal line of the shadow, the askew fence posts and the diagonal lines of the fence, shadow, and doors, all collaborate to make this image about its lines. I also love the contrast between the curves of the clouds in the upper part of the image and the angular lines in the lower part and how those two sections are divided by the roof cutting through on the diagonal. 

As wonderful as the color is, to me it is a distraction from the real subject and beauty of this image: its angles and lines.


Enjoy this wonderful weather for being outside and photographing! 

Consider joining me to photograph Abandoned Gary, next Saturday, May 30. Details here.

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