B&W conversions, how do you decide

by Brian Bo July. 14, 2020 158 views

I love the editing process! Maybe even a tiny bit more that capturing. It lets me dial-in on my vision after I've clicked the shutter. Or discover and share something I didn't see. And, of course sometimes turn a bad shot around.

One area where I find choosing hard is black and white conversions. Some images just don't work. They just don't have the tonal range. Other times, it seems like color tells the story better.

This image is one that sits on the fence for me. I love this. I think it simple and there is no doubt the face is what I want you to see. I can also pull in that light wash on the left.

After conversion with adjustments and texture applied.

After conversion with adjustments and texture applied.

I am thinking the color is strong, maybe stronger? But it feels more busy. I could see where some color adjustments, dodging and burning, creative blurring and a vignette might help with focusing the viewer.

Straight outta camera

Straight outta camera

What do you think?

What makes an image a better candidate for conversion to you?

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Brian Bo 6 months, 1 week ago

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and feedback.

6 months, 1 week ago Edited
Nancy Andrea D 6 months, 1 week ago

I prefer the colored version ... perhaps to have the color slightly warmer ...

6 months, 1 week ago Edited
Benny Law 6 months, 1 week ago

Normally, monochrome works well for portraits, but in this case, I personally prefer the colour image. The warm and smooth complexion of the innocent child's face needs colour to be brought out, and with such an adorable child and his expression, it would be a waste to throw that warmth away. I don't think the monochrome can convey the same feeling. The other colours in the photo work well together too and don't distract from the subject. Try bouncing your eyes between the two images. I think eventually, your eyes would prefer the colour one. 🙂

6 months, 1 week ago Edited
John D 6 months, 1 week ago

IMO; 
One set of images that lend themselves to B&W are the ones with strong graphic or geometric elements. If the “Point” of the image is what I call light-and-shadow/line-and-shape, then B&W may be the best bet because monochrome emphasizes those abstracts, versus the real-life, in-person object. 

In a backhanded way, B&W is also good when there may be flaws in the original that need to be hidden. There is no color-noise in B&W, for example, and because we are used to the concept of “grain” in film photography, luminance-noise tends to be more acceptable too, as well as soft-focus. 

In this case, I personally prefer the B&W because the original is a little soft, and the monochrome hides the dirty face, which some may find endearing, but I don’t. 

If you do your B&W developing outside the camera, there are many options to play with, including dynamic range adjustments (I use “curves” in Photoshop) and color filter effects (not tints, just simulating what B&W film would see when using different color filters).

6 months, 1 week ago Edited
Brian Bo Replied to John D 6 months, 1 week ago

Thanks for the reply.  Much here to think about. 

As an aside, I would have cleaned up the face in a color edit too. I just thought it was better to leave the out of camera one untouched.  This way people saw the real starting point.

6 months, 1 week ago Edited
Berckmans Peter 6 months, 1 week ago

In this fase the color version is better. Most of the time I know in front if it is for conversion or not.

6 months, 1 week ago Edited
Brian Bo Replied to Berckmans Peter 6 months, 1 week ago

+1 do you have any rules or criteria you use to determine if one is good for conversion?

6 months, 1 week ago Edited
Berckmans Peter Replied to Brian Bo 6 months, 1 week ago

Always looking for light and shadows. Try not to get burnt out places. You can not edit these. Also find a style of edit you like. Contrast in colors works well. And practice, we have the luxury that we can switch beteen color and monochrome on the spot with our digital beasts. That can help. I did one time 100 days of B&W, than you begin to see it. My last post from the apples was taken with monochrome in mind . How more you do it, how better you get at it.

6 months, 1 week ago Edited
Brian Bo Replied to Berckmans Peter 6 months, 1 week ago

I'm not sure I could commit to a 100 day challenge. But I could spend time practicing shooting for B&W specifically. Thank you.

6 months, 1 week ago Edited
Berckmans Peter Replied to Brian Bo 6 months, 1 week ago

Go for it

6 months, 1 week ago Edited
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