Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Colour Vs. Black And White

This pair of images provides a nice start for a discussion of black and white vs. colour. In the image above we have some lovely rust, ranging in colour from yellow to brown through a variety of oranges. This is contrasted against the grays of the coated steel, with just a hint of blue in it.

I think the image works nicely in colour.

The image below, on the other hand, has thrown away all that lovely colour - but what do we gain? Well, suddenly the forms of the rings become more important, the fact that one ring is brighter than another is interesting. The image is of course less real, less a picture of rusty steel rings and more an abstract of fascinating shapes. The spaces between rings become as important as the rings themselves, making odd curving and pointed shapes.

I have done nothing to the black and white image except to add a little more highlight overall. The image now needs some local work - I don't like the dark upper right corner, it needs a darker lower left to balance it - whether that will work remains to be seen, but it needs to be tried.

There are dark curved long narrow triangles in the upper left and middle right. One is surface coated steel, the other the back of one of the rusty rings, but in black and white that doesn't matter - I think I'll try toning both down darker so their shapes are more obvious and complementary to each other.

I might add some "burning in" to the main rings so they look a bit more round - as it stands they don't vary dramatically in brightness from one side to the other of each ring.

The two top rings are not only lined up together (where everything else is lying higgeldy pigelty (sp.?) but they are the same tonality. I think I'll try making one darker and the other lighter so there is more separation.

That's all the changes I can think of for now, but these might not work and I could go off in a completely different direction or having made these changes, it may show me more changes that I could make to strengthen the image.

There's a real risk I'll go over the top and have to back up, or possibly even start all over again.

You might gather that I find this working on images to be a significant part of my creativity and wouldn't miss it for the world. Not only do I like showing you something you might not have noticed (too small, too cluttered, too ordinary) but even more I like the challenge of bringing an image to it's full potential. Notice that no where in these two efforts does it say anything about whether the image shold be black and white or colour. Guess perhaps that's why it isn't as important to me to do only one or the other. Eliminating colour is simply a tool for me on the way to creating the strongest possible image. Sometimes I fail, other times...

Whether you like either or both of these images isn't important here, but the process is and you might want to contemplate how it relates to your own work.

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