Architecture, Art, Challenges, MMC, Photography

The Challenge of Black and White

Recently I have been doing a lot of black and white.  Challenging myself, trying to see what works and what doesn’t.  I have never been a believer that every image is better in black and white.  I always felt that you should take it image by image, however, that doesn’t mean that some images don’t just cry out to be black and white.

I was talking to Laura Macky the other day and we were both talking about how we don’t do it enough.  That we really should push ourselves to attempt more.  I have always found this blog to be great for pushing me.  So we thought, let’s challenge ourselves. So today’s post is our first.  Of course the biggest hurdle to overcome was the time difference, she is in the US, so she will do her posts on Tuesdays, and I will do mine early on Wednesday morning.

LeanneCole-rialto-1This is my image for our first challenge, the building is the Rialto Towers.  For many years this building was the tallest in Melbourne, it has been surpassed now, but it is still an amazing landmark.  There was an observation deck up there as well, but I think it is has closed now.  Possibly due to the one now on Eureka Tower.

I did this image as a HDR initially, but I have also added other parts back in, then made it black and white.  I do have two versions of it, as there was something in the colour one that I really liked, so maybe I will show that another time.  The image was taken the same morning as the train ones, I have to say that the high ISO was annoying, so I might try going back.

Laura has sent me her image as well, and if you want to read the post on it, then you can go here Lines and Patterns and Cars, Oh My.

lines-web3Different images from each of us, but they both have very similar themes, lines and shapes.

We thought we wouldn’t restrict this challenge to just ourselves, and invite you all along to join us.  If you like you can email me a link to your post, or email me the image, I will feature your image with a link to your page.  I will do this unless I get 100’s, then I might have to rethink.

If you want to participate you must email me, or I will lose your comments on the blog or forget where they are.

Remember the time difference, in Australia we are 10+ hours GMT, or it might be 11 at the moment as we have daylight savings.  So for most of you, if you do your posts on Tuesday, then mine will come out first thing Wednesday morning, my time.  It is so confusing, we will work it out.

Here is a gallery with the images so you can see them a little better.


  1. I love your image! The reflections and variation in tones throughout are wonderful! This will be fun! I am now working on the image that got corrupted yesterday.

  2. To me, black and white looks artistic. Color tends to seem like somebodies travel photo. But that’s just me. Please “like” my postings if you get a chance. Thanks LC and, as always, top notch images!

    • I think colour can be great, and in this image that I posted today, I think something is completely missed in it because you can’t see the colour, but that might be another image again. I do what I can with liking Ron, and I try to see as many as I can. Thank you.

  3. Oh my… that parking lot photograph is absolutely amazing!!! Did Laura also get to choose the dark and light cars being mixed up so perfectly? :)

    B&W is not something i use very often but this sure makes me think again next time :)

  4. Thanks – I may send you something – but I worked exclusively in B&W for many years (with film, of course) and love the effect it gives the world.

    • That would be great Robert, would love it. I did work in B&W a lot when I started photography so I could develop and print my own images, but I don’t do it so much now, I think this could be good for me, make me think more. Thank you.

  5. Leanne, these images that the two of you have posted are spectacular. I love the leading lines in both of them, the contrast between the black building and the white building in yours, and the powerful white lines in Laura’s.

    Like you, I have just started dabbling with black and white photography. I find that not every image works as a black and white, but if there are some bold contrasting components to it, then it can look pretty nice. I actually just posted one image today ( of my son from last summer and felt that it looked better in black and white, and I have some images ready to go from a visit to the local farm.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to span you with a link to my blog, I just found it ironic that we both posted a b/w image on the same day and mean for it to be a challenge.

    Excellent work as always!

    • Thank you Shane.
      Portraits can be great in B&W, and many people do them, me included. I don’t mind you sending me a link to your blog, I had a quick look. I think it is great to give ourselves challenges.

  6. I think usually a B/W picture will look more artistic but it’s not always the case. And I think some photos are better in colors, I think it is a personnal choice.

  7. Leanne, sorry for not being around …. just back from my week in Stockholm.
    This is just amazing. You know that that I’m not a bigger fan of B&W – but I really love both of the shots … especially the building one. The cars and lines is so COOL. Excellent job as always.

    • That is okay Viveka, it is a busy time. I see you are getting a new camera, I’ve heard those ones are great. Thank you so much, I am on the fence about black and white, so it is an interesting challenge to do. Thank you and have fun with your new toy.

      • Leanne, just had to buy for that price – have been looking at it for nearly a year.
        I think you should do both B&W and color – you will be great in doing B&W- because you works excellent with shadows and shades. Hopefully I will have the camera on Monday. Can’t wait to go out there and play with it.

      • How exciting, I love getting new photography things. I don’t think I will start doing everything in B&W, but somethings do suit it more, so will have this one day each week to experiment, I think that will be good.

      • Leanne, sorry for not coming back to you earlier … thank you so much for the cards, the arrived on the same day as I left for Stockholm.
        Beautiful …. so beautiful – thinking of framing them !!! Million thanks.

  8. I’m enjoying black and white as well at the moment, as you saw on my blog….thanks for the visit btw! Love your pictures x

    • It is great to play around with, not sure how serious I will get with it, but I do like seeing what I can get, how it changes the impact of an image. Thank you Queenie.

      • Your right about it changing an image! Because the woods where I took pictures is just muddy and wintery, but in black and white it looks atmospheric and almost eerie x

  9. Wow! Again, wow! Every time I come here I am wowed. Excellent job on the photo, Leanne. I love this. Did you catch the reflection of another building above the entrance door to this building?

    Oh, I keep meaning to tell you. I don’t have Twitter. I don’t even own a cell phone if you believe it. Love, Amy

    • Thank you Amy, that is fantastic. I did, and in the colour it looks very different, so will have to show that at some stage. Thank you.
      I am so sorry about the twitter thing, I was trying to install it on my phone and I pressed the wrong thing, I’ve been getting similar responses all week.

    • Thank you, hopefully it will make me do more B&W images. I don’t know how long we will do it for, but it should be interesting. Thank you.

  10. I have included this in an email to you.
    I LOVE black and white but it is not for every image. It is so simple to do a quick ‘desaturate’ just to look at an image in B&W, and if it has promise then go back, take a little more time and correctly process it. I sometimes miss the darkroom, but I enjoy being able to replicate various paper and chemical tones on my computer…and I don’t waste as much water!

    • I got your email, thank you so much for that.
      I agree totally, it isn’t for every image. Sometimes the colour needs to be there. It is a good trick, I usually have to be in the mood. I don’t miss the darkroom at all, it was too frustrating for me, I do love my digital darkroom.

  11. Ah yes, that old argument; black and white vs colour.
    i get slightly annoyed by peoples clamouring for black and white as they are more “artistic”.
    Being really rather old now I spent the early part of my photo-journalist career shooting with two cameras; one for colour and one for b&w.
    The majority was shot in black and white – it was faster and easier to process, you could get it done anywhere. You saved the colour for important events; ones that could be sold as “cover images” for the European magazines.
    The choice of which camera to go for was much simpler.
    But now we shoot always in colour and render as black and white when the mood takes us.
    For me the decision is still relatively simple.
    Some images demand a black and white rendering because the colour is a disruptive influence.
    Othertimes it is the colour we want to capture.
    Fall in Vermont would still be lovely in black and white but it is the colours that drew us there.
    Some strong graphic images are confused by colour and your friend Laura’s picture illustrates that particularly well.
    I’m sure if that image had been shown in colour it would have failed quite dramatically.
    The colours of the cars and the sky would have demanded too much attention and the simple graphic arrangement lost.
    It will continue to be an ongoing discussion but for goodness sake do not fall into the trite trap of believing that black and white is more artistic — it is NOT.
    Ask yourselves before you press the shutter
    “What is this picture about ?”
    “What am I saying ?”
    “What attracted me to this scene – this angle, this composition ?”
    Choosing black and white as a preference without considering what you’re shooting is dumb.
    Making the decision back home in front of the compute after having considered the options is smart.
    Making that decision BEFORE you press the shutter is the mark of an artist.

    • Thank you David, you have made some fantastic points and given some great suggestions. I agree with you totally, absolutely. There are times when the colour just needs to be there, and times when it doesn’t. Thanks for taking the time to write all this, I really appreciate it.

      • William Eggleston (I hope it’s well spelled) comes to my mind when thinking in non b&w artistic photography. Leanne, your photo is great (as usual)…but Laura’s is aaaweesooomeee! thanks for sharing :-)

  12. The parking lot works so well. It fulfills all the charm of a monochrome. We must constantly challenge ourselves to be open to the edges of discovery.

  13. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says

    I like the passageway from one side to the other. :)

  14. Dear Leanne, Two great photos by you and your friend Laura! Thanks so much! I will try to find one of mine and send it to you, if possible. Great job, as always! You are always able to fire up all of us to participate. Again, thanks so much! :)

  15. Paul Simon said it in ‘Kodachrome’: “Everything looks worse in black and white.” It’s one of my favorite songs, but I’ve seen some awesome B&W shots…

  16. I love both images in B&W. I’ve resisted this for so long, didn’t like it I thought, but I am beginning to see that some photos just do so well in monochrome.

    • They do Angeline, though I have been a bit like you, I think you have to work it out with each photo. It can add more drama, but sometimes you just need the colour. Thanks.

  17. I love both the photos. Sometimes there is something dramatic about B&W. I started following Laura, too. Her blog is beautiful too, and it’s fun to see the vivid colors of her header photo next to today’s B&W!

  18. Both images are great! Love the dark clouds in the corner of the Rialto shot. It’s like something – not necessarily rain – is about to fall from the sky :)

  19. Both are great images Leanne! Great idea to push yourselves to do new things together! I’m off to check out Laura’s blog.

    • I thought I might post it today Richard, I like the colour one more I think, but you can judge. I did a couple of colour versions. Thank you.

  20. Oh my gosh I still very much struggle with black and white shots. Sometimes I’ll luck out, but most of the time it doesn’t turn out the way I want it at all! These are beautiful Leanne :)

    • I was thinking after I first saw this comment and wondered if you and others would be interested in me doing a tutorial sort of thing on how I do them.

      • Yeah that would be amazing, if you had the time! It may not be up everyone’s alley, but it sure would be fascinating.

  21. Fantastic idea for a challenge! On a side note, sometimes I think I forget that the world before the 1900s was not, in fact, in black and white.

    • I hope so David, it seems like a fun thing to do. Though when we think about it, we have only ever seen the world in black and white on film.

  22. Pingback: Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness | Disperser Tracks

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