Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Photography in color, in sepia, in black and white

Color and photography go hand in hand or do they? Let's look at the world around us. Do we see things in black and white or do we see them in color?

Most people with normal vision see in color. A few with tetrachromatic abilities even see beyond the normal range of colors. Is either important to photography and the kind of photographs you take? In a word, no. You cannot fully understand what a tetrachromat can see and they may not be able to understand your limited color vision. This has no effect whatsoever on your photography save for two important things. Firstly, if you don't see as much the "normal" range of colors then it's probably better to stick with black and white photography. Secondly, if you see more than the "normal" range then understanding why other people cannot see the differences between different colors that is as plain as day to you might be incredibly frustrating. It might be better to stick in that case also to straight black and white.

Personally I love black and white. I like color too. There's a time and place for both. This photo is a prime example of this. I used a cheap Promaster polarizing filter on the lens. I'd forgotten I still actually had any Promaster stuff. I thought I was all Hoya. Needless to say, there was no anti-reflective coating on the cheap filter and I got bags of flare as can be seen from the lighter area above the tree branch. My hand alone was insufficient to ward off the excess light. Thus, turning this disappointing image into sepia made a huge difference. It's now quite an acceptable image. 

Where black and white really scores is when it's necessary to make a photograph look really dramatic. Increasing the contrast thus eliminating the slight hint of light in the background really makes the following image.
In color the candles were very orange and the aged brass of the candelabra combined with the white wall bathed by orange light did not look too great. This was from a wedding I photographed. I simply converted to black and white and left it at that. I won't even show the color version - that was really not very inspiring. The black and white is inspiring though.

As far as filters are concerned. I will mention them now because I've admitted to screwing up a photo using a cheap-ass ProMaster filter. I would advise either not using a filter at all or getting a really good one. Cheap-ass filters do not add to any photographic images at all. Rather they take a good photograph and destroy it.

I have spoken mostly of black and white. This is an image many would see in black and white. I see the color with the blue of the sky, the red, white and blue of the flag and the green of the trees all reflecting in the Vietnam wall in Washington DC.

This, for me, is where color really comes alive, when I can tease the color from a photograph most would turn black and white. It takes it from being a sombre memorial image into an image of hope and life. The men listed on the memorial died so others could live free, They don't need to be represented in a dramatically lifeless black and white image but celebrated in full, glorious color.

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