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Author Topic: Color or Black & White?  (Read 3326 times)
John Clifford
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« on: December 05, 2008, 09:57:45 PM »
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I post-processed the same image in black and white, and in color. I think one is vastly superior to the other.





What do you think?
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kikashi
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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2008, 05:58:40 AM »
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Quote from: John Clifford
I post-processed the same image in black and white, and in color. I think one is vastly superior to the other.





What do you think?
You're rather coy about your own view!

As they stand, I'd vote for the colour one. But I suspect that if you made the B&W version a bit more contrasty and interesting (it looks rather washed-out and flat to me), my view might change!

Jeremy
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John Clifford
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« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2008, 07:00:45 PM »
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Okay, I'll bite...

I personally DO like the black & white version better. I don't see how the contrast is too low, or how it looks 'washed out'.

Seriously, how would you re-do this image to make it better? What would you darken?

(Asking because I'm taking Alan Briot's advice, and SEEKING an audience... )
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JDClements
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2008, 07:39:14 PM »
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Without reading your response first, I choose the B&W right away. In the colour version, the colour does not add anything, and in fact I think the green band along the bottom actually distracts. Not so in the black & white image. If you added much more global contrast, I think the top half of the picture would be lost, and you certainly don't want more contrast in the bottom quarter. That leaves the second-from-bottom band, containing the city, and the contrast there looks fine to me.
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2008, 07:49:05 PM »
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Here is a simple simulation of using a red filter.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2008, 07:50:26 PM by Kirk Gittings » Logged

Thanks,
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2008, 07:54:22 PM »
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Quote from: John Clifford
I post-processed the same image in black and white, and in color. I think one is vastly superior to the other.


What do you think?

I agree.  
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John Clifford
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« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2008, 08:41:07 PM »
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Quote from: Kirk Gittings
Here is a simple simulation of using a red filter.

I looked at your image and compared it to the original.

I am going to play around with SLIGHTLY darkening the mountains in the background, but one of the things I like about the B & W image is how one can see the effects of clear-cutting on those mountains (the darker areas are forested, the lighter areas have been de-forested). I didn't like darkening everything overall. Perhaps I have the advantage(?) of seeing the picture on a larger monitor.
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walter.sk
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2008, 10:36:42 AM »
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Quote from: John Clifford
...one of the things I like about the B & W image is how one can see the effects of clear-cutting on those mountains (the darker areas are forested, the lighter areas have been de-forested). I didn't like darkening everything overall. Perhaps I have the advantage(?) of seeing the picture on a larger monitor.


This raises an important issue.  When you first asked for a comparison of the color vs the B&W images, the assumption on my part was that you were asking for a response based on the aesthetic qualities of the picture.  However, when you state that your interest is in seeing the effects of clear-cutting on the mountains, that becomes an issue that overrides the aesthetic aspects.  An extreme example of that would be photojournalism shot that keeps a very busy background in the frame in order to document a crime scene, rather than moving the camera to the left or right to select a more aesthetically pleasing background.

If the photographer has the goal of elucidating some aspect of a story with his/her image, then the challenge of the situation is how best to photograph the scene such that, in the case of your images, the difference between the clear-cut and not clear-cut areas becomes central, otherwise the potential viewers who don't have that in their minds would not be drawn to notice the difference.

Aesthetically, I think increased contrast adds to the value of the B&W image.  From a storytelling standpoint, I think a narrower field of view, focused on the area showing the effects of clear-cutting, would make your point more effectively.  You said that you have the advantage of seeing the image on a large monitor, but I think it is more a question of knowing what you want to look for in the image.  As a viewer, I found that your interesting landscape picture did not convey that message.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2008, 10:41:43 AM by walter.sk » Logged
John Clifford
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2008, 06:16:37 PM »
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Well, I'm not trying to tell a story about clear-cutting, however what I find appealing about the image is the different tones throughout. The clear-cutting is what causes the different shades of grey on the distant mountains... something that is mostly lost in the color image, and also lost if the constrast is jacked up too high in the image.

I know that art is subjective (that's why it's art! :-) ). But, I also think there are commonalities among different works of art that follow the same style. Perhaps 'style' is the best word to indicate those commonalities; we see it when we look at the works of accomplished artists. Ansel Adams' images are recognizable, as are Robert Mapplethorpe's. Similarly, I looked at Alain Briot's most recent critique where he compared the color and monochrome versions of an image, and while I found his commentary a bit of a ramble his edits to the images made sense to me (I liked the image better after his edits). We were seeing the same thing, even if the visual-to-verbal translation differed (this is probably because I don't fully understand the vocabulary, and Alain is obviously much more aligned with the terminology used by the artistic community).

So... maybe the reason I want to keep the different tonalities of the clear-cutting is less about clear-cutting and more about the impression/emotional reaction that I get when I see the image. I don't think there's a right or wrong here. And, that others don't get the same emotional reaction from the image is valuable to me, as an artist who is struggling to understand my art.

Writing this message, and thinking about it, has started a larger conversation within me about art and perception and emotional response. Interesting, how Alain's article about finding and defining an audience also ties into this. The entire subject is something that I have to ruminate on, but I will eventually write an article on it... if only to help me clarify my thoughts.
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jani
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2008, 05:26:47 PM »
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Is it just me, or is the colour seriously off in the colour version? The greens in the foreground seem unnatural, as do the yellows on the mountains.

In both versions, there are halos around buildings and mountains, ruining those parts of the image. It looks like there's been too much local contrast adjustment, or a similar technique. It looks bad in the size presented, I can only imagine how noticeable it would be in a print. You need to tone down these adjustments, and try to achieve a contrast enhancing effect without them.

The red filter simulation seems a bit too dark to me, so perhaps it would work to use a milder version of that effect, with the added benefit of achieving what you might have been aiming for in the local contrast adjustments.

The foreground has a problem; its fairly busy, yet there's nothing that's really there to look at. Cropping the foreground would be my regular suggestion, but then the image becomes noticeably imbalanced.

Here's a suggestion for a different crop and different use of a red filter:

[attachment=10270:John_Clifford_BW1.jpg]

I took the B&W version, created a new adjustment layer, red photo filter with density 57%. Later, I adjusted the opacity to 71% to tone down the effect.

Then I added a hue/saturation layer to desaturate, in order to keep some control over the process.

While this isn't entirely pleasing to me, I think it's a step in the right direction, especially if you get rid of the halos first.

Sidenote: Why is it that nobody else seems to notice such blindingly obvious halos? They never seem to be getting any comments in other user critiques, either. Are they too used to seeing and ignoring such artifacts?
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Jan
dave230862
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« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2008, 04:55:58 PM »
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[blockquote]Sidenote: Why is it that nobody else seems to notice such blindingly obvious halos? They never seem to be getting any comments in other user critiques, either. Are they too used to seeing and ignoring such artifacts?[/blockquote]


Being fairly new here (ie, don't post much) it's hard to comment on the halo's, other than to remove them, of course.

Being somewhat tragically addicted to the new Black and White Adjustment Layer, I offer this rendition.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2008, 05:45:33 PM »
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Which is better, color or B&W?  Color of course.  An elephant can have fleas, but a flea can't have elephants (as a practical matter).  B&W can be made from color, but going the other way, you lose a lot of information.  Ah, but you argue aesthetics.  Well, try some different transformations on the color image.  B&W isn't the only parallel universe.
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Colorwave
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« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2008, 05:48:23 PM »
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I'll throw my $.02 in with Jani on this one.
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