B&W Colour Effect

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  • #52180
    Joshua Ong
    Participant

    Lately, I’ve been thinking of the instances photographers would shoot pictures in black and white. Is this technique often used when subjects and scenes (i.e. landscapes) do not have much colour? Would certainly appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.

    I’ve attached two pictures taken in black and white. These images were taken with this colour effect because I thought there wasn’t much colour in and around the subjects. The condominiums did not have much colour and the cat’s fur was only black and white.

    Attachments:
    #52184
    Logan Lamar
    Participant

    Hi @joshua_ong!

    Is this technique often used when subjects and scenes (i.e. landscapes) do not have much colour?

    I’d answer that with “sometimes”!

    I used to shoot products for a guitar case manufacturer. I shot a lot of black guitar cases :). If the guitar case was solely black and white then, and any color introduced by the camera (chromatic aberration is the technical term) wasn’t true, we’d put the case in black and white to more accurately show the product. So that’s an example of where I might go for black and white where the scene is only black and white (a little like your cat).

    However, more often than not, I’m finding that black and white is often very useful when there’s too much color! What I mean by that is sometimes the color detracts rather than adds to the image, and so it is often better removed almost altogether.

    Sometimes the landscape’s colors are just bland and don’t look good, so black and white will make the image more interesting.

    Sometimes the colors aren’t bad, but the lighting is! I just shot a wedding where people were often moving indoors and outdoors or hanging around in doorways. This is not good for photography because your camera can’t tell what white balance to put where—if someone is standing in a doorway, the inside of the house will look way to yellow while the outside will look way to blue. These undesirable color shifts can be avoided by putting the image in black and white.

    From a more artistic perspective though, going back to what I was saying about editing though in a previous discussion, it all depends on the feeling I’m trying to convey with the image. If the color contributes or enhances the feeling I want to convey with the photo, I’ll keep it and sometimes make it more vivid by boosting the saturation and vibrancy in post production. See my sunrise images below.

    If, however, the use of color detracts or distracts from the feeling I want to convey with the image, I’ll convert it to black and white (see my schoolbus pictures below).

    It all depends on what you’re trying to convey. Find out what will further your “message” if you will, and emphasize it. Find out what is distracting your message, and remove it.

    Hope this helps!


    @loganlamar

    Attachments:
    #52189
    blessings captured
    Participant

    I like to use B&W when a sense has a lot of contrast. Such as in the middle of the day. I also like to edit them to make sure that something that is pure black and pure white in. Also adding some clarity helps.

    #52244
    John Machen
    Participant

    A neat B&W effect I’ve tried is called Color Splash Effect or Selective Color Effect. It’s when I take a photo that has too many distracting colors to convey the mood or feeling I’m trying to express, I sometimes make the entire picture B&W and then painting back in only one color or subject (If that subject is basically one color). It adds a dramatic touch that might be what it takes to make the photo really pop. I’ve attached two examples…

    I was editing one of my senior pictures from last winter and I wasn’t super impressed with it. So I made it B&W and then first painted back the gold watch band and then the hat band. I kinda like how it turned out!

    Another example is a photo I took one time of a cardinal bird during a snowstorm. After doing normal edits, I wasn’t seeing anything extraordinary about it. Then I thought about the reason I’d taken it originally was because the bright red bird stood out in the snowy scene. So I tried that same effect.

    So maybe the answer is more complicated than you thought! Sometimes just B&W might look best, but if it looks “boring” you can try picking one color of your subject to showcase.

    Attachments:
    #52319
    Frazer Family
    Participant

    @Loganlamar said:

    If the color contributes or enhances the feeling I want to convey with the photo, I’ll keep it… If, however, the use of color detracts or distracts from the feeling I want to convey with the image, I’ll convert it to black and white… It all depends on what you’re trying to convey.

    Absolutely. This is probably the most important thing to keep in mind. What do you want your picture to convey? Think about it, and keep it in mind as you edit.

    @hayhand02
    wrote:

    Sometimes just B&W might look best, but if it looks “boring” you can try picking one color of your subject to showcase.

    So, to put the two together in an example:
    Sometimes you can do the reverse of @hayhand02’s trick as well, to achieve a pleasing effect.
    This cat was not really very black, being illuminated by a cloudy sky, and the grass wasn’t very green, being early spring. (pic 1)
    But by the time I had saturated the colours enough to make the grass as green as I wanted it to look, the cat was all shades of eerie blue and orange, having been illuminated by a cloudy sky. (pic 2)
    Converting the darkest colours to B&W really improved this shot a lot, even though the cat never was that black to begin with. (pic 3)

    This isn’t the best example of good photography (notice the leaf in the top right corner that mysteriously turned greyscale), but it illustrates the point.

    Attachments:
    #52332
    Logan Lamar
    Participant

    @hayhand02 has some neat ideas there! I’ve done it before for a shoot for my mom’s blog:
    https://www.ahappyhomemedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/When-the-Holidays-are-Hard-1.jpg
    In the image above, I wanted your attention to be on the young lady, as I was trying to get the viewer to feel a sense of empathy for her. That’s why she’s wearing red, and that’s the color I chose to pop out. But everywhere else in the image was black and white—I wanted to convey her sense of sadness or her view of the general greyness of the world.

    Again, “what feeling am I trying to convey?” is the question to ask yourself.

    It doesn’t have to be sad—in a wedding I’m shooting right now, any funny moments that weren’t planned for and aren’t great photos to begin with (it’s not tack sharp, there’s a lot of ISO noise, the subject is a little out of focus, etc.) I’m converting to black and white and putting a subtle film noise effect over the top of everything. The feeling I’m conveying there is spur-of-the-moment (i.e. I didn’t have time to get my “color film” out 😛 ).

    #52335
    Joshua Ong
    Participant

    @loganlamar, @blessingscaptured, @hayhand02, and @frazer-family,

    Thank you so much for your helpful tips and insight into this area of photography. I’m assuming that the edited pictures attached above were processed using Lightroom/Photoshop.


    @loganlamar
    and @blessingscaptured, to summarise what you have said, I think B&W would be used in the following situations:

    1. Subject or scene is only black and white.
    2. Excessive colours detracting from the scene.
    3. Bland colours in the scene.
    4. Poor lighting conditions.
    5. Significant exposure contrasts.

    If the color contributes or enhances the feeling I want to convey with the photo, I’ll keep it and sometimes make it more vivid by boosting the saturation and vibrancy in post production.

    If, however, the use of color detracts or distracts from the feeling I want to convey with the image, I’ll convert it to black and white

    Good points to keep in mind whenever I’m taking pictures.

    May I ask how you edited the sunrise picture? I really liked the post-processed image. Over the weekend, I downloaded the free photo-editing software, RawTherapee, and have been playing around with it, using some of the tips from @buddingphotographer on previously captured pictures. I would love to know the steps you took on editing the photo, so that I could apply them on some of my sunset pictures.

    A neat B&W effect I’ve tried is called Color Splash Effect or Selective Color Effect.


    @hayhand02
    , I’ve been thinking about this effect as well and I think it is a good way to make a subject of a picture “stand out.” I wonder if RawTherapee could be used to achieve this effect. Perhaps @buddingphotographer could advise on this.


    @frazer-family
    , the reverse of the Selective Colour Effect does improve the picture of the cat. I prefer the third picture which has more vibrancy and contrasts in colour compared to the first picture.


    @loganlamar
    , the Selective Colour Effect draws the eyes of the viewer to the subject and would convey the intended feeling.

    Once again, thank you all for your wonderful ideas and illustrations on the B&W Colour Effect.

    #52339
    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    Good to see you on the forums, @joshua_ong! I like B&W when I’m trying to emphasize texture too, sometimes.

    #52457
    Joshua Ong
    Participant

    Thanks @jamesstaddon! Great to receive your input on composition and editing.

    #52471
    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    I wonder if RawTherapee could be used to achieve this effect. Perhaps buddingphotographer could advise on this.

    RawTherapee is not really capable of that sort of editing, although if the one color you want to emphasize is distinct enough it might sort of work… If you’re already comfortable in GIMP, you can do a “selective color” edit much more effectively in GIMP/Affinity/Photoshop.

    #52615
    Joshua Ong
    Participant

    Thanks @buddingphotographer! Glad this effect could be achieved with a free software like GIMP.

    #52803
    Joshua Ong
    Participant

    If you’re already comfortable in GIMP, you can do a “selective color” edit much more effectively in GIMP/Affinity/Photoshop.

    I tried the Selective Colour Effect with a bottle of artichokes. Attached are both the original picture and the edited version with selective colourisation. The reason for the edit was due to the fact that the colourful tablecloth seemed to be a distracting backdrop to the picture. Selective colour edits were done in GIMP (which I recently installed), and saturation was increased in RawTherapee.

    Attachments:
    #52806
    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    Nice! Looks like you got the hang of it pretty well. 🙂

    #52859
    Joshua Ong
    Participant

    Thanks @buddingphotographer! It did require some patience, though.

    Your RawTherapee video tutorial really got me interested in photo editing and simplified this sometimes complex aspect of photography. I used RawTherapee on some of my landscape photos taken in the past, and the post-processed pictures have turned out to be amazing! Thanks again.

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