Black and White or Color

Black and White versus Color

When it is worth it to convert an image to BW to see how it works?

All digital images exist in three channels, red green, and blue, which are three different BW versions already. And you can easily blend these channels to create all sorts of different BW versions. Plus you can play with curves until the cows either come home or go get a job in the city.

But when is it worth it even to try a BW version — it is clearly too much work to try on every shot you take, unless you are a BW only artist. (I love the purity of BW, and when it works it is magnificent. But not every image gets a boost from even the best BW conversion.)

To me, there is a basic motivation behind taking every photo. If that motivation has to do with form and texture, then BW might say it better. But if color is essential to the original motivation then BW is often pointless.

The image below got my attention because of the textures and patterns, so it seemed reasonable to play with it in BW. And the row of trees stands out nicely in the BW. But for me the green color is too critical to the idea to lose it.

There is no rule for this: it is nothing but a personal choice, an extension of your (hopefully unique) view of the world.

aerial in color aerial in BW