Black and White in Colour


I have been enjoying photography for many years. I used to shoot a lot of black and white in the early days, mainly because it was cheaper than colour. Then colour processing became cheaper than B&W processing so colour was the way forward. And I love colour! Indeed. But in this world of Flickr and Instagram there are millions of excellent colour photos which, quite frankly, make my job of satisfying my perfectionism all that more difficult. No, impossible!

B&W was my early life. It is becoming my new life. Sure, there are still millions of excellent B&W images out there and I have even contributed one or two. If I may include myself in that company.

B&W to me is art. Colour can be too, of course, but B&W is more subtle, more emotional. IMHO.

So I have been thinking about getting a monochrome camera, like the Leica Monochrom, if I could pretend just for a moment that I could afford it! Even a monochrome Fuji for considerably less. But I am lucky to have a Leica Q, which is my absolute joy, and which produces delightfully detailed colour photographs which can be converted to B&W in Lightroom or Photoshop or DXO PhotoLab. And I ask myself, “why would I want to buy a dedicated monochrome camera?”

I don’t. Because I think colour has a very good place in a B&W photograph. It adds another dimension. Take “Old boat and chains. Lerwick, Shetland Isles 2016. Leica Q/Lightroom” shown above. Bringing the rusty chains up in colour adds value. Not to say that the “black and white in colour” images are necessarily better than pure B&W, just that they can add a different perspective to the picture.

Some more examples:

Leica D-Lux 6/Lightroom
With a little colour.

The B&W image is detailed, clear and crisp, but I wanted to highlight the fruit. Adding slight colouring brings them into the viewer’s focus, separating them from the other objects in the image.

Edinburgh. Leica Q/Lightroom

I wanted the viewer to be drawn to the windows and door, so adding a little colour achieved that. Perhaps.

Lerwick. Shetland Isles. Leica Q/Lightroom

The boat in the harbour would be lost without a touch of colour.

Lake Como. Leica Q/Lightroom
And with a little colour.

This is much more subjective. The B&W image is probably better but the coloured version draws the viewer more towards the person in the image.

Bellagio, Lake Como. Leica Q/Lightroom
With a splash of colour.

I believe the B&W image here is better. However, adding a touch of colour gives a bit more depth to the image. Or it might not. Personal taste.

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