Ghost Town or New House

How do you decide when to take a picture  in black and white as opposed to color?  In the film days, it was actually a decision you had to make but with digital, it always starts as color.  Most cameras have a black and white mode, but you’re kinda nuts if you use it*.

Most of the time when I take a picture and decide to process it into a B&W image, it’s because it either has really strong lines and contrast or it has very little in the way of color to start.  That was what I found here:

Ghost Town or Garage Wall?

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In this case, turning this into black and white seemed to actually add impact and the difference was somewhat subtle.  As soon as I dropped out the color, I started thinking about the contrast, the shadows, and making things pop.  Lightroom has pretty good workflow for this kinda stuff so it only took a couple minutes.  The picture I had in my head all of a sudden appeared – all I needed was a little less color.

Oh – I kinda neglected to say it before, but what you’re looking at isn’t a ghost town or an abandoned building – it’s the back of my new garage.  I think I see a few weekends in my near future!

Last point about black and white images vs color.  Many cameras have a setting where you can “take an image in black and white”.  This is a pretty bad idea.  When you take a picture, the camera has a lot of information.  If you have a DSLR and save the image as a RAW file, you keep it all.  If you save it as a JPG, the camera does its best to make a good image and discards the rest.  If you save it as a black and white picture, the camera even discards the color information.  It’s always easy to discard it later, but why lose it all up front if you don’t need to?  You and your photo software of choice will do a better job later.

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