Thursday, March 5, 2015

Monochrome or Color?

Small Wood Table Monochrome - Johannesburg, California
When I photographed the small table you see in the image above at an abandoned house in Johannesburg, I intended for it to be black-and-white. With photographic vision one must know ahead of time what they want the finished image to look like so that they can go about creating it.

I saw the light shining harshly from a window onto the wood. I noticed the background was a little dim. That meant contrast, and contrast is a important element of monochrome photography. I knew in my mind that the photograph would be converted to black-and-white.

While post-processing the images my wife was kind of half-watching me edit. She wasn't paying close attention, but she was paying closer attention than I thought. When I showed here on the computer monitor the finished photograph (the one at the top of this post), she said, "I liked it better in color."
Small Wood Table - Johannesburg, California
That was not the response I was expecting. It wasn't the response that I was hoping for. But my wife is often right about these things.

I hadn't even considered the photograph as a color image. In my mind it had always been monochrome. So I had to rethink it. And re-edit it.

It's interesting to me how the two versions feel so much different. The black-and-white is bold and moody. The color version is more soft and mysterious. I think I still prefer the monochrome image, but only by a little. My wife thinks the color version is a stronger photograph.

Most of the time an image either works as a color image or as a monochrome image. It's not often that a photograph works well as either. This is one of those rare times that it could go either way.

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