photography from the ground up

A Separate Reality

It has been well documented that color steals the show when it comes to viewing a photograph. I have written about this previously, but as I have evolved as an artist, my ideas concerning visualization have also progressed. When you look at the two versions of the image below, what is the thing that grabs your attention? What is it that makes one version better or more visually pleasing to you? Do you have the same emotional response to both, or do they each evoke a different reaction?


I love the shade of green in the color photograph. All the variations of shading change subtly from one tone to the next, the trees in the background are almost an afterthought. It is a relatively peaceful image.


The second version is rendered in black and white. There is more tension between the elements because the background trees are no longer visually less dominant. Their repetitive verticality vies for attention with the more random shapes and lines in the False Hellebore in the foreground. The contrast in tonality is also more obvious in the second version, making the image more visually aggressive.

I don’t mean to say that the black and white image is more successful in portraying the feeling I had when I recorded the scene, I am just pointing out that each version places more emphasis on certain elements in the composition. The result is two separate realities (apologies to Carlos Castaneda) that convey two different emotional responses to the same subject.



15 responses

  1. I love the colour in the first, and the texture and contrast in the second. I often baulk at using black and white myself, not because I don’t like it and see how it changes the entire feeling of the picture, but because it does change the feeling away from how I felt when I took it. Because that’s the truth in my picture, that’s what I saw and that’s how I feel I should keep it. I do sometimes use tools to restore the colour that my phone strips away in the process, but usually that’s it.
    When I look at the images later I know I could turn them into something more striking with the vast range of tools available but I feel like I’m cheating.
    It isn’t what I saw at the time.
    I guess that’s where photography blurs into art, creating a picture from an image. Dunno really!


    October 14, 2014 at 11:43 am

  2. In this instance I prefer the black an white. Thanks for posting these shots…you’ve inspired me to give b&W another chance. Back in the day, I started my photography life at a local newspaper. We shot 99.9% b&W. When the rare opportunity came up for me to shot color, I was so excited! I suppose that has carried over for too long. It’s time to revisit the old days for me 🙂


    October 14, 2014 at 5:17 pm

  3. I prefer the color image. The black and white just doesn’t appeal to me.


    October 14, 2014 at 10:57 pm

  4. Great images 🙂 I love doing black and white, but in this instance though I do like the mono version, I think the colour behind the trees in the first one draws my eye through the image and seems less busy whereas with the mono, it stops at the trees.


    October 15, 2014 at 8:22 pm

  5. The black one shiw us more dramatic


    October 16, 2014 at 12:41 pm

  6. The black and white certainly is more aggressive Jim. Very nicely done!


    October 16, 2014 at 10:49 pm

  7. I love the color image. An emotion hit me pretty hard, although I’m not sure which one it was.


    October 17, 2014 at 9:10 am

  8. The first one sings of life. It’s lovely. 🙂


    November 3, 2014 at 1:05 pm

  9. The color has more scent.


    November 3, 2014 at 1:28 pm

  10. Excellent post Jim, I like the way you addressed the differences in the photos. Personally, I like both shots for different reasons. I think it depends on the mood you’re trying to communicate with the shot. I suppose if forced to choose I’d go with the power of the B&W, but then that probably depends on my mood too!


    November 10, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    • I think I like the B&W version best myself, but ask me again tomorrow, 🙂


      November 16, 2014 at 4:16 pm

  11. I use to like BW, but in this case I prefer the color one.


    November 17, 2014 at 5:40 am

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