Black and White or Colour Photograph– Blue Mountains Photographer, Darren Edwards

I’m a bit old school at times, I ride a steel-framed bike, I like old fashioned manners, opening doors for ladies, respect for our elders and follow-up thank you calls to dinner invitations.

I also like black and white photography.

Black and white photographs are generally considered old fashioned or “traditional” because that was the first medium for photographs, well before hand-colouring, colour film and of course digital images.

Fortunately most cameras and certainly most photo editing software offer options for changing your colour digital images to black and white to achieve that old school look.

Most of my clients receive their images in colour but occasionally somebody will have a particular desire for black and white images. They can be to match other images on their walls but more often it is because they prefer them to colour images. Its an aesthetic thing I think.

I believe black and white photographs give an image a timeless quality. They allow us to see detail in an image, the tone and contrast are more obvious and we as viewers are not distracted by the colour of things. At times we can be led to feel a certain way about an image by the colours present in it. With black and white we are forced to imagine the colours or the temperature of the day. To some extent this gives greater depth to the image.

Many years ago I worked as a press photographer around the time newspapers were starting to use colour, particularly for their front page images. We photographers would carry around 2 cameras, one with colour film and the other with black and white. The editors would usually tell you which jobs to shoot for the front but a lot of times we would use our discretion. More often than not you would shoot the job with both cameras just to be sure you could cover all bases and supply a colour images for the front and a black and white for any of the other news pages.

Reflecting on that now it seems such an archaic ways of doing things.

Digital cameras and software allow so much flexibility with our images its amazing to think how far technology has come.

Using Photoshop to convert an image to black and white I like to use the black and white layer adjustment. I find the default settings usually work ok but I do like to tone the image a little to warm it up. I find the digital conversion to be a little cold so I add a little dark brown to add warmth, a little like a sepia tone but not quite as strong or obvious.

 

How do you like your family portraits? Do you prefer colour or black and white?

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