Everyone loves a good black & white image. The question is, as I sit here & stare at my perfectly good color images, when to black & white?
This is a very subjective topic, and there is no one right answer. I can, however, offer some tips and examples of when black & white may be preferable over color.
Sometimes it’s an easy, obvious choice. Black & white makes for a more dramatic impact than a color photo. Some subjects are dramatic. Some subjects just need to be in black & white. This was the case with my Dachau concentration camp photo’s.
Another great time to convert a color photo to black & white is a visually overpowering image. Removing the color impact, allows the eye to focus on the details. My photo taken at the Munich Oktoberfest is a great example of a very busy photo made simpler in black & white.
Night photo’s, or dark photo’s, can be very difficult to balance the light vs. dark. It can be very difficult to get the white balance just right. A great way to solve this, is to covert to black & white. This photo was taken at the Digital Art Museum in Tokyo.
Black & white can also be a great way to emphasize texture in a photo. Here I’ve convert a photo taken in Prague to black & white. Notice how the cobblestones are better defined in the after version.
Converting to black & white is also a great way to highlight motion in a photo. Especially when there is moving water, the contrast in a black & white photo is more acutely visible than in it’s color counterpart. This photo was taken on the bay in Charleston, SC.
Black and white can also be used to create a more dramatic skyline. This is particularly effective if your sky is blown out or boring. It allows the buildings to stand out in contrast. This photo was taken in Leiden, the Netherlands.
A final tip, converting to black & white can neutralize the background so that your subject stands out. Like the photo of this beautiful boy taken at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio.
There are many reasons why to convert a color photo to black & white. There is no one reason. No one right answer. It helps to think of the story the photo is telling you. What part of that story is important to you? Will the story be told better in black & white? Only you can answer that.
This post is part of our December Photo-a-Day challenge in the forum. Show off your own black & white photo’s today?