Black and White VS Color : Editing tips for photographers

November 11, 2014

When we shoot digital we have the freedom to be able to focus on the composition, emotion, and exposure of an image, and decide later if it is going to look best in black and white or in color. I secretly love to edit. I love to sit and go through my images and enhance them in ways the camera is not able to do. Sometimes this can be a challenge for my indecisive self though! If there is an image that I just love, sometimes it is hard to decide if it should be black and white or leave it in color. Can you relate? So I ask myself a series of questions that helps me decide... 1. What is it about this image that you want people to notice first, what is it that you want them to remember about it? 2. Is the color part of what it is that you want them to respond to? Or is it simply the emotion that you want them to remember, or the drama, the contrast, or the moment. 3. Does the color draw my attention to things that I don't want them to look at? 4. Is the color adding to the mood? Or is it distracting from it? Usually asking myself those questions will help a lot with me deciding between black and white and color. If the color is not adding to the mood, if it is drawing my attention to things in the image that I don't want the audience to focus on, if it is distracting from the emotion in an image, I will make it black and white. If the color is part of the story, if it is adding to what I want to convey, I will enhance it. Maybe the color is adding whimsy or sweetness to an image. I will use the color to help tell the story I want that image to tell.   The image below, I think it looks good in both black and white and color. I love the way the light looks on the water around her in the black and white image. For the final image, though, after asking myself the questions, I left it in color. I think in this image the color is an important part of it. Since her back is turned, there is no emotion in her face to grab you, the mood is peaceful and innocent and youthful. I feel that the color in this image really helps express that. Her bright pink hat and orange bathing suit show her colorful personality. This image also has a lot of negative space around the subject. I felt like that space was better filled with the interest of the gorgeous blue color instead of just grey space.   There is really no right or wrong answer though, this is art. If you like this image in black and white better, there is nothing wrong with that! While I absolutely love black and white, I do tend to have a hard time letting go of a the color :) What do you tend to lean towards?   EDITED WITH PHOTOSHOP ACTIONS AND LIGHTROOM PRESETS AVAILABLE HERE    black-vs-color



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