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The Challenge of Black and White

Leanne Cole

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, leanne@leannecole.com.au 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.

99 Comments Post a comment
  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.

    February 26, 2014
    • Thank you Laura, I love yours too, the whites in it really stand out, quite spectacular, I think it will be fun too, already trying to work out which image to do next. May the challenge begin. :)

      February 26, 2014
      • And thank you for posting my photo in your blog. I’ve already gotten a few followers within a few minutes after you posted. Incredible. I’m excited about this challenge!

        February 26, 2014
      • You are welcome, thanks for helping me come up with this idea. I am really excited about it.

        February 26, 2014
      • :D

        February 26, 2014
      • You should respond to comments too, as some of them are really for you.

        February 26, 2014
  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!

    February 26, 2014
    • 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.

      February 26, 2014
  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 :)

    February 26, 2014
  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.

    February 26, 2014
    • 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.

      February 26, 2014
  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 (http://wp.me/p2fKaT-lD) 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!

    February 26, 2014
    • 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.

      February 26, 2014
  6. A black & white studio portrait if you would like to use:http://kkeithphoto.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/out-of-the-night/

    February 26, 2014
    • Thanks, but do you think you can email me the link please, I forget where they are here, the next one will be posted next Wednesday.

      February 26, 2014
      • Sure, sending link now to your email. Have a great day!
        kkeith

        February 26, 2014
      • I got it, thank you.

        February 27, 2014
  7. 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.

    February 26, 2014
    • I couldn’t agree more Nelson, some just lose something when you take the colour out. Thank you.

      February 26, 2014
  8. 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.

    February 26, 2014
    • 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.

      February 26, 2014
      • 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.

        February 26, 2014
      • 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.

        February 26, 2014
      • 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.

        February 26, 2014
      • I am glad they arrived Viveka, sorry for taking so long to send them. I am so happy you like them.

        February 26, 2014
      • I’m so pleased over your gift. *smile

        February 28, 2014
      • That is great to hear Viveka, I am so pleased.

        February 28, 2014
  9. 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

    February 26, 2014
    • 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.

      February 26, 2014
      • 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

        February 26, 2014
      • I think B&W can make an image so much more moody, though not for all images.

        February 26, 2014
  10. Love these shots, especially the parking lot!

    February 26, 2014
  11. Nice lines, Leanne

    February 26, 2014
  12. 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

    February 26, 2014
    • 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.

      February 26, 2014
  13. What an amazing challenge you’ve given yourselves. I love both images side by side, quite striking

    February 26, 2014
    • 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.

      February 26, 2014
  14. I have included this in an email to you.

    http://rkpowers.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/you-are-the-gazillionth-visitor/

    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!

    February 26, 2014
    • 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.

      February 26, 2014
      • Oh and by the way – thank you for two nice strong images ;-)

        February 26, 2014
      • You are very welcome, thank you. :)

        February 26, 2014
  15. 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.

    February 26, 2014
    • 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.

      February 26, 2014
      • 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 :-)

        February 26, 2014
      • Thank you, I think Laura did heaps better here for the B&W, haha.

        February 26, 2014
    • Well said, David

      February 27, 2014
  16. 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.

    February 26, 2014
    • Yes it does, Laura did very well with it. Thanks Sally, it is good to challenge ourselves.

      February 26, 2014
  17. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez #

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

    February 26, 2014
    • You mean on Laura’s photo? It is a great image.

      February 26, 2014
      • Jackie Saulmon Ramirez #

        Yes, Laura Macky’s building! It is stunning with its sleek lines. :)

        February 26, 2014
  18. 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! :)

    February 26, 2014
    • Thank you Fabio, I have never really done anything like this before, so not sure how it will go, hopefully it won’t get too big to handle.

      February 26, 2014
      • No worries, Leanne! The driver is so professional!!! :)

        February 26, 2014
      • I guess we will see.

        February 26, 2014
      • :)

        February 26, 2014
  19. 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…

    February 26, 2014
    • I agree, some things are good in colour, and others are fantastic in black and white.

      February 26, 2014
  20. 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.

    February 26, 2014
    • 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.

      February 26, 2014
  21. chengboiser #

    Great photos!

    February 26, 2014
  22. 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!

    February 26, 2014
    • I think there is something very dramatic about B&W too Nia, thank you. I hope you enjoy Laura’s blog.

      February 26, 2014
  23. Great idea ladies……and two great shots

    February 26, 2014
    • Thank you Mark, it will be good to challenge to ourselves.

      February 26, 2014
  24. WOW……, blown away…!!! :)

    February 26, 2014
  25. Gr8

    February 26, 2014
  26. 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 :)

    February 26, 2014
  27. Both are great images Leanne! Great idea to push yourselves to do new things together! I’m off to check out Laura’s blog.

    February 26, 2014
    • Thank you Robyn, I think sometimes we need that push. I am sure you will enjoy Laura’s blog.

      February 27, 2014
  28. Great shots, both. Looking forward to seeing your colour version, Leanne.

    February 27, 2014
    • 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.

      February 27, 2014
  29. 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 :)

    February 27, 2014
    • I do too at time Amanda, it is a hard one, trying to work out which image to use and which one will work best. I think it is about practice and just trying things. Thank you.

      February 27, 2014
  30. Two great images – but for drama and superb contrast I would have to say Laura’s image is awesome.

    February 27, 2014
    • Yes, you wouldn’t be alone there, I many think her photos is better, me included. Thank you.

      February 27, 2014
  31. Would like to make some strong black and white like yours

    February 27, 2014
    • 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.

      February 27, 2014
      • Yeah that would be amazing, if you had the time! It may not be up everyone’s alley, but it sure would be fascinating.

        March 3, 2014
      • I will have to see how I go. I got your email, thanks.

        March 3, 2014
  32. Stunning images Leanne! Great perspectives.

    February 27, 2014
  33. nice!

    February 28, 2014
  34. these do lend very well in B&W, love the car park

    March 3, 2014
    • They do, thank you, I think Laura did a great job with that car park.

      March 3, 2014
  35. 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.

    March 3, 2014
    • 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.

      March 3, 2014

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