Color vs black&white

(Fuji x100s @23mm, auto iso 1000, f/8, 1/40s)

One of the first decisions to make is whether to keep color or go black&white. The general ‘rule’ – there are no real rules in photography – is to only keep color if it adds to the meaning of the photograph. Sometimes it’s obvious, for example: keep the warm, saturated colors for a wedding shoot but convert to black&white for a funeral (even though that is also debatable, but let’s assume…).

When editing this photograph of a passage through a rocky path in Jordan/Petra I couldn’t decide what way to go. On one hand the warm purple-orange adds a comfortable, pleasing feeling to the scene which I really like. On the other hand the more subtle and softer black&white version corresponds well with the empty chair.

In the end it comes down to what feeling you want to convey. For me personally the black&white does it better with its softer touch of solitude. Though I’m convinced that the colored version has an easier appeal to the larger crowd.

I have one more version of this scene that without much doubt fits color better:

DSCF2610

Here the solitude of the empty chair is gone. Instead we see a boy with a red t-shirt adding to the overall warmth. I much prefer color for this photograph. Which reminds me: one small change within the frame can completely alter the feeling and meaning of a scene and as a consequence the choices you’re making in post-editing.

 

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