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Black and white… and yellow

May 14, 2010
Yellow Door, Fernie

Yellow Door, Fernie District Historical Museum

This week primarily has been taken up with a business trip. But, like an increasing number of photographers who normally use “heavy gear”, I have taken to carrying one of the more capable point-and-shoot cameras with me most of the time. One evening after wrapping up at the office, I took a quick trip down the road to swing through Fernie, B.C. Mostly I was just taking a break, not planning to shoot anything in particular. But there are a few locations I like to check out around the town. One is the old Fernie District Historical Museum.

This building itself is possibly moving into history, having been boarded up for awhile. But when I swung by it this time, I found a bit of fresh painting had been done. (Sadly, a bit of fresh vandalism as well.) Seeing this bright yellow door, I pulled out the Canon G10 and took a few shots. I liked this tight composition showcasing the door, but also keeping one of the shuttered windows to provide some additional texture and counter-balance the heavier door structure.

Experimenting with both color and B&W treatments, I liked how B&W brought out the textures of the sandstone blocks and weathered wood. But the bright yellow of the door was a signature color which had attracted my eye in the first place, so I decided to let that one color bleed through the monochrome conversion. The result — black and white… and yellow.

Do you work with or enjoy black and white photographs? If so, what’s your opinion on tinting and colorization, aside from more traditional B&W looks like sepia toning?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 14, 2010 08:16

    Opinion on tinting or colourization? Heck do what ever you want! Photography is art, so do what turns you on. In the end if you like it, then you have succeeded.

  2. Adge permalink
    May 14, 2010 11:12

    Opinion? You want an opinion? Okay…here’s an opinion…I enjoy B&W photography. The whole, “less is more” approach where elements available in the image are sacrificed in order to enhance other elements is something I enjoy. Call it a bit of rebellion against the industry I’m in where technical drawings show everything…relevant or not.
    Tinting? I like…that old hand-tinted look…like what was done on daguerreotypes.

  3. David, not an artist. permalink
    May 14, 2010 21:28

    Use what you wish to make the statement. In the photo above, your eye is directed, no, commanded to view, the yellow door. If the yellow door is what you wish to emphasize, it certainly is in this photo.

    I would prefer a tinted yellow door; a hint to coax your eye to the door. That would still give me ample time to explore the B&W aspects of the photo. But, you are the Master of this photo, so as you see fit, I guess.

  4. May 15, 2010 07:30

    So far the votes are solid for “it’s art — do what you need to do.” 🙂 I’ve been curious for awhile about viewers’ thoughts on color and B&W, in the digital age. When I show both color and B&W treatments of the same image, sometimes I think they are equally interesting. But sometimes my preference is strongly for the B&W version. Even in those cases, there are usually lots of viewers who prefer the color version, which has me suspect that B&W may be something of an acquired taste. Not sure.

    Going with a selective coloration in the B&W treatment is something I’ve been experimenting with as a way to combine the emphasis on texture & tone (like Adge says, “less is more”) while still preserving a singular bit of appealing hue. As soon as color comes back into the equation, though, it may open a can of worms. Too much color, too strong, lacking somewhere else it would be expected, highlighting the wrong things, etc.

    All color or all B&W at least eliminates the need to be careful in composing that aspect of the final image. When color is used selectively, it’s an exercise in judgment — which means it may not work!

  5. May 15, 2010 08:38

    Wayne Fletcher once told me “Colour photos are about colour, black-and-white photos are about composition”. In context, think Ernst Haas and Bill Brandt.

    I think you’ve proved his point with this hybrid experiment – cool! The base B&W is “a composition”, and the strong colour that (good choice of word, David) COMMANDS your attention really does make this work ‘about colour’. Nice.

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