Removing color from your photos...Sometimes less is more.

I have to say that I really don't like taking photos in black and white. I like to shoot in color and then download them, live with them for awhile, and process them differently at that point. But there is something to be said for removing the color from a photo.

In this forest, I originally wanted to capture lots of sunlight and haziness, but I ended up liking this version better. It highlights the contrast in the paper birch trees, and you can still see the haze in the background.

Fans at a Red Sox game. By removing the color you can see the similarities in the people instead of their various color clothes.

A little boy who wants to go outside on a rainy day..:) The raindrops on the sliding door add interest and become a graphic element without color.

My favorite of the bunch I think. The sunflower field in Connecticut which I originally blogged about a few weeks ago. (see the field in color here.)  Since they are so vibrant, and it's hard to look at anything other than their brilliant yellow color, I really think that by removing it this photo shows off how vast the field really was. I added a soft photo filter of blush pink.

A new father's tattoo..and the little feet that inspired it.

The landscape of Bar Harbor looks more classic in monochrome.

Lunch by the sea looks like a vintage movie set. You can really see the heart shapes in the chairs.

Things to consider about processing your photographs this way:
  • Anything with geometric lines and shapes will look interesting when you remove the color.
  • A landscape with a boring or washed out sky will benefit from more interesting foreground, which sometimes happens when processed in black and white. this is because..
  • Negative space is emphasized. When space around your subject would normally be a light sky or sunlit background, suddenly it becomes cream or white, and your subject pops.
  • People love their portraits done in black and white, because it smooths complexions and brightens eyes. Try changing one of your ho-hum portraits to black and white and see if you like it any better than the original.

What do you think? Do you like black and white or sepia toned photographs? When I first started selling online, my first big sale was a 20" by 30" version of one of my beach landscapes in sepia. I think it's easier to match the colors in your home when you consider a monochrome or muted color scheme. I hope to do a set of my florals and one of my beach landscapes in black and white as well when I re-open my shop.


A New England Life said...

I see exactly what you're talking about, Mary. Unfortunately every time I work on a photo and turn it into a black and white I'm not happy. After seeing your photos I'll have to give it another shot.


Caitlin said...

Great lesson, Mary! @New England Life~ The trick is to use an image with enough contrast to create an enough variety of black, grey, and white. If your image has too much "grey area" the composition won't hold its own and it will seem flat.


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