Sunday, April 13, 2008

Black and White

Somebody was asking me about how I decide what should be black and white and what should be color.

Well, the film I shoot is mostly black and white for reasons that have to do with the tonal range and me liking how it looks and that's all I can develop at home anyway.

With digital the file in RAW format contains the color information even if I choose to preview it in black and white on the camera. Some lighting I feel only really looks good in black and white, so I'll set it in advance in that case. Otherwise it's a post processing decision.

Sometimes I want a really high contrast and usually that only looks good in black and white although there are exceptions. Sometimes with an outdoor shoot the colors aren't very attractive - there might be an unreal-looking green slime on the rocks or something. Once there was some paint on a tree that vanished in black and white.

Often it's a judgment call that can go either way - after all, I often make a black and white platinum print from an image I usually present in color.

These two shots were taken in the same lighting, with no major tweaks to make it black and white. Why did I go with black and white after I went to the trouble of coloring the background? Because after I took the test shot I turned on another background light with a green gel. Which I'd attached using a new method. Which had the effect of spilling some green light back at the model. I thought I'd positioned her such that it was OK, but it wasn't. And there's nothing like having splotches of green on your model to make her look, um, sickly frankly. But in black and white nobody will even know... unless you have a blog!


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