I am a massive fan of B&W images, probably why I love film so much. From my perspective, digital B&W can only approximate the beauty of film, but that is the subject for another blog with much more detail. Today I just wanted to focus on why I sometimes do choose to photograph in color.
First, why I took this shot this way....
Above are two, exactly the same images taken in London with a Nikon D800. It was a typical winter day in London which means cloudy and wet. I am standing on a bank of the Thames, on a set of stairs that lead up to Westminster Bridge. I like this vantage point because you can just get people's faces but avoid distracting clothing. If I go farther down the stairs, I would get no people, just the bridge and tower.
What I wanted to capture was the cloud cover, let me explain. For a photographer, there are different types of clouds. There are white fluffy clouds that are dispersed through the blue sky that helps the sky to really jump out. There is the flat gray clouds without texture, which is excellent for portrait photography as it gives the best light I have ever seen but it gives a very dull backdrop. Then you have the storm clouds, these can fill an image with tension as we naturally want to get away from it. And finally you have the well textured set of clouds. These provide an interesting background which can really help balance out a landscape image. This, of course, were the clouds I saw that morning in London.
I chose an aperture of f/8 as this is the sweet spot of the lens, and boosted the ISO to 400 to ensure that I would have a fast shutter speed (in this case 1/1000 of a second). When shooting moving people, with a Nikon D800 I prefer very fast shutter speeds (over 1/250th of a second) which helps eliminate blur caused by movement, either the subject or my own.
I waited to ensure no busses or trucks were crossing the bridge and captured the image above. I shot the same scene twice, to help eliminate the possibility of having some odd facial expression from a passerby. I find that two images, when taking shots of multiple people, helps you filter out and odd face or movement that one of the people created.
Why some images only work in color?
There are images we have all taken with striking color. This visual element can make an image come together. When this happens we use color as a compositional tool, I wrote about this HERE and it can be a powerful tool.
The Selection of Color vs B&W
I must say that this image works both in color and B&W. I like the contrast captured in the B&W image but I also like the gold and green in the color photograph. So when an image can work either in B&W or in Color I will typically choose B&W.
Patrick...confirmed film & digital photography addict.