One of the greatest difficulties I face as a photographer is deciding whether to present an image in colour or black & white when the subject does instantly lend itself to one or the other.
All my images are shot in colour as a matter of course. I well remember chief photographer John Fairclough, on the weekly newspaper I worked on in the 1980s, saying that by shooting in colour, the shot could always be printed in the newspaper as black & white but the reverse was obviously not true.
In those days all news photographs appeared in the newspaper as black & white images. Colour was only used for the occasional fashion feature or a Royal visit.
I think my love of b&w photography stems from growing up with b&w images in newspapers, as well as b&w television. Sometimes I get a surprise on the Turner Classic Movie channel when I discover that an old movie I saw back in the 1970s, and which I automatically assumed was shot in b&w because of its vintage, was in actual fact shot in colour.
I also like working with an image in black & white. With Silver Efex Pro, and the various controls it offers, I can play about with an image, tweaking various parameters to get a black & white image just how I like it.
A good example of the kind of conundrum I often face arose from the trip to Fernandina Beach last weekend.
This shot of the man silhouetted on the jetty and the view across the St Marys River under a marvellous evening sky has an instant appeal in colour.
But when the image is converted to b&w in Silver Efex Pro, it takes on a totally different quality and one that I think is more personal.
Each version has its own merits and that is where the difficulty arises, deciding whether one outweighs the other sufficiently enough to deseerve its inclusion in a gallery. I suppose an easy way out would be to present both images, as I have done here, and let the viewer decide.
But I feel it is my role as the photographer to decide. In presenting both versions, I would simply be passing the buck at best, lacking in conviction with regard to my artistic vision at worst.
When making choices from a wide selection, be it cameras, cars or whatever, I can usually narrow my choice down to two, leaving me with some agonizing soul searching as to which one I choose.
Now can you understand why I have such difficulty sometimes in choosing between b&w and colour, the choice is already down to two to begin with.
I often think my indecision over making a choice from two things comes down to being a Gemini.
That’s my excuse and I am sticking with it.
Leave a comment to say whether you prefer the b&w or colour version. I would welcome the feedback.
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