One of the fundamental choices we make as photographers is whether to shoot in colour or black and white.
In the film days of course, this was determined by the film loaded in the camera. We couldn’t simply switch between colour and b/w, shot by shot.
With digital, we can make this choice every time we press the shutter button, though personally I prefer to stick to either colour or b/w for each particular photowalk.
Well, my headspace is different for each, and what my eyes tune into and look for changes too.
With colour, whilst the overall composition is important in any shot, a particular colour or combination of colours can almost be the composition.
Also, with colour there is no single colour setting, which for me makes it far more challenging.
Most cameras I’ve used, I don’t particularly love the default colour output.
Which is why after some years of searching I was delighted to find older CCD sensor cameras like the Pentax K100D and Samsung GX-1S give me warm, natural colours I do love, straight out of camera.
It saves me from almost endless fiddling about with different combinations in something light LightRoom, something I never enjoyed.
Despite finding these camera colour champions, I still enjoy shooting b/w at least as often, albeit generally only in the late autumn through to early spring.
Because – especially during seasons where there is naturally less colour around – I love how b/w simplifies photography further, and reduces the number of decisions we need to make.
Aspects such as light and shadows and texture come to the fore, and help me focus more on the basics necessary for any memorable photograph.
Yes, as with colour, there are of course many possible variations of b/w, depending on how you set up your camera and how much (if any) you process the images afterwards.
But I have a pretty consistent look, whichever camera I use, either via the camera’s on board settings (I love those with high contrast mono settings like some of the Lumix cameras and the Ricoh GRD III) or via Snapseed with preset favourites.
So I rarely have any kind of indecision over how my b/w images looks in terms of tones.
We’re into autumn now here, and with shorter days and that strong low sun, it invites the beginning of another era of b/w photography for me, always an exciting time.
But how about you? Why do you photograph in black and white?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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