Black and white processing is a monochromatic technique which contains greys that sit in the spectrum of absolute black to absolute white. Color in a photo is needed and great to show certain emotion, but sometimes the photographer wants to create a fine-art feeling, show texture, or give a different perspective. Black and white photography tends to decrease distractions that allow the viewer to see the composition of a photo.
I enjoy working with black and white processing when editing a session. When I find a photo where black and white suites the image, I will still offer both edits to the client. Not all people have the same preferences when it comes to their photos being in black and white, and that is fine.
There are a few things that I consider when selecting an image for black and white.
1. How busy is the photo?
If there is a lot of background activity this could not allow for the subject to contrast to the background which will lead to a muddled grey-tone.
2. How is the lighting?
The muddled greys would also apply if there were not enough contrast lighting on the subject.
3. Are the colors needed?
A sunset over the ocean may not be a good candidate for processing in black and white, the emotion will not transfer the same.
Above is a comparison of images from a combine driving competition.
There are many other edits that can be made to allow the photographer to create a certain feel, including cropping, background swapping, blurring, etc; we will go over some of these in future post.
Black and White photographs create a timeless feel, and it will be a techniques photographers may consider when processing a session.