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The pros and cons of black white versus color for street and travel photography

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Black And White Photography Vs Color Photography.

Use Filters. Graduated neutral density (AKA ND grad) and polarizing filters are simply as advantageous in monochrome photography as they are in colour. In fact, because they manipulate image contrast they are arguably more advantageous . An ND grad is collaborative when you want to retain detail in a bright sky while a polarizing filter may be used to reduce reflections and boost contrast. Alternatively, put down as,take for,account,reckon,treat,adjudge,size up,value,rate,gauge,sum up,weigh up taking two or more shots with unique exposures to create a high dynamic range (HDR) composite. Don’t be afraid to use a ND grad with a standard neural density filter if the sky is brighter than the foreground in a long exposure shot. Coloured filters, which are an essential tool for monochrome film photographers, can also be useful for manipulating contrast in digital images. They work by darkening objects of her opposite colour while lightening objects of his own. An orange filter, for example, will darken the blue of the sky while a green one will lighten foliage.

Dodge and Burn. Dodging and burning is a roadway that comes from the traditional darkroom and is usually used to burn in or darken highlights and hold back (brighten) shadows. Photoshop’s Dodge and Burn tools allow a level of control that film photographers can only aspiration of because you could target the highlights, shadows or mid-tones with both. This means that you should use the Burn tool to darken highlights when they are too bright, or the Dodge tool to brighten up them to increase local contrast. It’s a good avenue of giving a sense of superior sharpness and enhancing texture. Plus, because you could set the opacity of the tools, you can build up her effect gradually so the impact is subtle and there are no hard edges.

Look for Contrast, Shape and Texture. The complimentary and opposing colours that bring a colour image to life are all reduced to black and white or shades of grey in a monochrome image and you have to look for tonal contrast to make a shot stand out. In colour photography, for example, your eye would straight away be drawn to a red object on a green background, but in monochrome photography these two areas are likely to have the same brightness, so the image looks flat and dingy straight from the camera. luckily , it’s possible to work adjust the brightness of these two colours discretely to introduce some contrast. However, a good starting point is to look for scenes with tonal contrast. There are always exceptions, but as a general rule look for scenes that contain some forceful blacks and whites. This should be achieved by the light or by the brightness (or tone) of the objects in the scene as well as the exposure settings that you use. The brightness of the bark of a silver birch tree for example, could inject some contrast (and interest) in to a woodland scene. Setting the exposure for these brighter areas also makes the shadows darker, so the highlights stand out even more. Look for shapes, patterns and textures in a scene and move around to find the best composition.

Shoot RAW + JPEG. The most excellent monochrome conversions are run into by editing raw files which have the full colour information, but if you shoot raw and JPEG files simultaneously and set the camera to its monochrome photograph Style/Picture Control/Film Simulation mode you get an indication of how the image will look in black and white. As most photographers struggle to visualise a scene in black and white, these monochrome modes are an invaluable tool that will help with composition and scene assessment. many cameras are also capable of producing decent in-camera monochrome images these days and it’s worth experimenting with image parameters (usually contrast, sharpness, filter effects and toning) to find a look that you like. Because compact wont cameras and compact cameras show the scene seen by the sensor with camera settings applied, users of these cameras are able to preview the monochrome image in the electronic viewfinder or on rear screen before taking the shot. DSLR users should also do this if they kick in her camera’s live thought attribute , but the usually slower responses mean that most will find it preferable or check the image on the screen post-capture.

Take Control. Although coloured filters could still be used to manipulate contrast when shooting digital black and white images, it’s more prominent to save this work until the processing stage. Until a some years ago Photoshop’s Channel Mixer was the favored means of turning colour images monochrome, but now Adobe Camera Raw has more powerful tools (in the HSL/Grayscale tab) that allow you to adjust the brightness of eight individual colours that make up the image. It’s possible to adjust single of these colours to make it anything from white to black with the sliding control. However, it’s important to keep an eye on the whole image when adjusting a particular colour as subtle gradations should become unnatural looking. And adjusting the brightness of a red or rosy shirt with the red sliding control, for moment , will have an impact on the model’s skin, especially the lips. The Levels and Curves controls may also be used to manipulate tonal range and contrast, but the HSL/Grayscale controls allow you to create segregation between objects of the same brightness but with unique colours.

Try Long Exposure. Long exposure shots should work really well in monochrome photography, especially where there’s moving water or clouds. During the exposure the highlights of the water, for example, are recorded across a wider area than they would with a short exposure and this can help enhance tonal contrast. The blurring of the movement also adds textural contrast with any solid objects in the frame. If necessary , use a neutral density filter such as Lee Filters’ Big Stopper or Little Stopper to decrease exposure and extend shutter speed (by 10 and 4 stops respectively). naturally , when exposures extend farther than as regards 1/60 sec a tripod is wanted to keep the camera still and avoid blurring. It’s also advisable to use a remote release and mirror lock-up to minimise vibration and produce super-sharp images.

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For example, this photo (below), taken in the Forbidden City in Beijing, makes use of the striking contrast between the red walls and the yellow tiles (matched by the boy’s shorts).

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Color is very powerful and used wisely it can elevate your images to another level. Yet, if it is not used thoughtfully, it can take away from the impact of your photos.

3 Reasons for working in black and white 1. To capture character

That’s on top of the task of capturing the expressive moments that the best street and travel photos reveal.

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If you’re working in color, think about the colors present in the scene and how you can use them effectively. Your mind will engage and start looking more deeply at the colors around you.

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If you are working in an area with lots of potentially distracting colors, working in black and white may be the way to go. For example, this scene in Bolivia was quite colorful, and I felt that black and white removed the distractions of those colors.

What do you think? Do you prefer to make street and travel photos in black and white or color? Let us know in the comments.

The process of deciding to shoot in black and white or color involves assessing the scene and the situation, and deciding which one to use, taking into account the reasons listed in this article and your personal preferences. The key is then to commit to the process. Work the subject and do your best to create the most powerful images possible.

Many street and travel photographers, street photographers especially, chose to work in black and white. If your aim is to make a candid portrait that captures something of the person’s character or soul, then black and white is an excellent choice. There is something timeless about black and white that helps reveal character.

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Dusk and early evening are good times to work in color as it gives you the opportunity to work with the natural color contrast between the orange light cast by tungsten light bulbs and the natural blue color of the ambient light.

If you’re working in black and white, look for interesting textures, tonal contrast, and shapes. Again, once you commit your mind will start looking for compositions that work well in monochrome.

For example, last year I visited Beijing and noticed that red is a very common color in that city. It denotes power and wealth and has an important part in Chinese culture. I realized that it is possible to create a series of interesting photos with red as the dominant color.

Color photos are at their strongest when the light is beautiful. This is usually during the golden hour close to sunset, or early morning just after sunrise. The light at these times is warm and golden, and tremendously evocative. This could be a good time to work in color.

Color photos can be tremendously evocative, but so can black and white ones. I think it’s because a black and white image leaves something for the imagination, or perhaps because we associate it with photos taken in the past. So, if you are working somewhere with lots of old buildings, then black and white photos can be a tremendously moody way of capturing the atmosphere of that place.

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I took this photo close to sunset. The light was soft and its warmth helped lift the scene.

Having said that, it is also helpful to think about the following factors when you are processing photos. It may be that you were working in color, but realize afterward that a particular image would work very well in black and white. The same considerations apply, except that you have more time to think about it.

Black and white is a form of simplification. Skilled street photographers learn to create images that are uncluttered and that contain as few distractions as possible. Color can be extremely distracting, and sometimes it’s easier to ignore color completely and work in black and white.

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The Pros and Cons of Black and White Versus Color for Street and Travel Photography

For example, let’s say you make a portrait of somebody on the street, but there is a red poster on a wall behind them. In a color photo, that’s likely to be very distracting. But convert it to black and white and the distraction goes away. The viewer’s attention goes back to the person, where it belongs.

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The question of whether to shoot street and travel photos in black or white or color is an eternal one that isn’t going to go away. But one of the interesting things about digital photography is that it lets you decide whether to process a photo in black and white or color after the photo has been taken. Unlike film photography, there’s no need to commit to one or the other until you open the photo in Lightroom.

This photo below was taken in the early evening. The hat and t-shirt of the man in the foreground are colored blue by the ambient light outside, while the rest of the scene is lit by artificial light. I retained the orange color in post-processing to keep the atmosphere.

There’s a lot to think about, and as black and white and color photography require different mindsets, it’s a good idea to make the decision about which you are going to shoot before you press the shutter button.

But is that a mistake? I think it is because black and white photography and color photography are two different mediums. If you are working in color, then you need to pay attention to the colors in the scene and how to use them to create an interesting composition. But in black and white, you need to pay more attention to textures, contrasts, and shapes in order to create a strong composition.

I chose black and white for this photo, taken in the Argentina, because the stirrup is handmade, and looks ancient, as if it were made many years ago.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about street and travel photography then please check out my ebook The Candid Portrait.

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