A DEBATE ON COLOR AND B&W FOR STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

I was recently having a discussion with a friend about the merits of black and white versus colour photos.

I have not been a big black and white shooter (mostly because black and white is a process for me with Lightroom). However, I have become a fan of black and white for people. In a black and white photo the focus become the characters in the shot, you are not distracted by colors.

Take this shot for example, a street vendor around the spice market in Old Delhi  (Config: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 28-300 f/3.5 USM)

We happened to be stuck in traffic and these guys were having an animated conversation. Perhaps about the weather or the latest cricket scores? I post both shots, with the black and white being my favorite.

2013 12 24 Old Delhi-4-2

To me color of his head scarf and the mangos is a distraction while the muted wardrobe of the street vendor means that he is not a focal point. The street vendor almost fades into the background.

2013 12 24 Old Delhi-4

I am going to start producing a lot more black and white. That being said, I remain a handheld HDR fan – a great feature of the Canon 5D Mark III – for other photos.

Interested in the experiences and opinions of others.

Comments

  1. I actually prefer the color because of the fruit lined up. While I’m starting into the B&W world, I still love color so maybe that’s the reason. :) Nice shot in both worlds.

  2. I think for me I prefer b&w for street, it just strips everything, leaving just the essence of the story.

  3. The big advantage (to me) of B&W is that it isolates the structure of the shot (just as Louise above said). Additionally, you can turn up the contrast a lot on B&W, bringing out lines and shadows that might have been weak in the original color.

  4. Interesting, you and I approached this from different perspectives. I processed my street photos in color saturated HDR because I love color, but I see your point from the example you showed here. I might have to rethink my choices next time. B&W is certainly a viable alternative.

  5. I think those are not mango. They are star fruit.

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