The Subtleness of Colour

Today’s image was taken at the foot of Box Hill in Surrey last autumn. We descended down to a small stream near Burford Bridge where there were Stepping Stones across a stream. Mid stream I paused and watched the water funneling between the stones and I shot a series of images.

Back home it seemed obvious that this would make a visually strong B&W image and I produced one. And I liked it.

IMG_7015_BW1But when I looked at the colour version it struck me that although the funneling water benefited from the monochrome treatment, the image as a whole was diminished as a result of losing those faint tints of colour that added information to the context of the image particularly in the foreground area.

IMG_7015Deciding which image will benefit from a B&W conversion is not always a straightforward process – you may be surprised by the results. Sometimes the subtleness of colour is more important than you think.


About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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10 Responses to The Subtleness of Colour

  1. I remember taking an almost identical photograph years ago in the Peak District. It was with my old film camera (Pentax K100) and while I liked the image I was unhappy about the palette of colours. Mainly muddy greens and browns which isn’t what I remembered when taking the photo! You are right about the additional information that colour can offer and I agree that it can also provide context. With my image I never had the opportunity of flipping it into B&W so it is nice to see your treatment. I actually really like the B&W image and in my view the absence of information offered by colour enhances the abstract nature of the shot. With less distraction from the colour I think the movement of the image is stronger in the B&W. Perhaps more dynamic? I guess we will all see these things differently. Since I was struck by the similarity to my own photograph I thought I’d share my thoughts. Have a great weekend. Best wishes, Mr Cafe 🙂

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks very much for that comment PC. I agree that the B&W works well as an abstract. In this instance I somehow felt that the context was quite important – perhaps because it was a great walk and I wanted to have an mage that encapsulated that situtaion.

  2. Len says:

    When I first looked at the B&W, I couldn’t figure out what it was but the color put it into perspective. It always amazes me how a little color can change a photo. Nice work Andy.

    • LensScaper says:

      Someone else commented that the B&W worked as an abstract, and I think it does, but as an image of a stream and the stepping stones the monochrome version lacks the colour that helps to de-code the context.

  3. oneowner says:

    I agree, Andy, the decision is not always streight forward. And there are so many options available to the digital photographer, picking the right one or combination isn’t always easy. Sometimes, doing nothing works the best. Decisions, decisions!

    • LensScaper says:

      The good thing these days is that a decision can be undone so easily – it allow so much experimentation that was not possible in the old days (as you and I remember them) of film. I sometimes end up with three or four versions of an image and then struggle to work out which one I prefer.

  4. shoreacres says:

    Not only does the subtle color add context, it also helps to emphasize the water stream in the center, seeming to weight the water more heavily than what surrounds it. In the black and white, everything seems equally important, and, hence, less important. Or so it seems to me.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Linda – a perceptive comment. The simplicity of B&W can sometimes remove information that is in fact very relevant to the interpretation of the image.

  5. Chillbrook says:

    I’d be very happy with either Image Andy! I like the strong black and white image but as you say, the colour adds something too. 🙂

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