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  1. #1
    roteague's Avatar
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    Which is harder? Color or B&W?

    I've recently finished reading David Ward's excellent book "Landscape Within"; this is more a book about the philosophy behind landscape photography than about pure technique.

    In this book David makes the the following statement "It is much harder to make a great photograph in color than b/w because the complexity that the photographer must control has increased many fold, since not only form and tone but also colors must now be balanced."

    Do you agree or disagree, and why?
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  2. #2
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    I am a color photographer, and I find statements of this nature purely subjective, each photographer is going to find their own set of difficulties in each medium, I find B&W far more difficult due to the fact I have to change my thinking process to see in tones and not colors, I have never been a good one for converting colors to tones, so my difficulty is the seeing portion of the process.

    Dave

  3. #3
    Paul Sorensen's Avatar
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    It makes for an interesting argument over beer. I think that there is no possible right answer to this. If the artist is putting into their work what they ought to be, it is hard work and it doesn't matter the medium. Of course, when the artist is truly dialed in, it is likely easy. Perhaps the hardest medium is the one in which you produce the worst results, no matter how hard you try, you just can't get it right.

    Can I get anyone another beer while I am up?

  4. #4
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Sorensen

    Can I get anyone another beer while I am up?
    Sure, you want a slice to go with it, I am heading to the Kitchen to refill the beer and grab a slice of pepperoni with sauage!



    Dave

  5. #5

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    I see far more 'bad' color work - in books, on the Net, in magazines, et al., where the photographer just seems to have zero sense of how to place color in the composition, how to print it, how to make it look good. So often color photos just look like snapshots from the drugstore, there is no 'there,' there. B&W simplifies the equation, there are fewer distractions and variables to overcome.

    If you don't have the right light, color is just ugly. But when a color photo hits all the right places, it can be stunning.

    I find that I prefer (for my uses) color to B&W in MF and LF (esp. Polaroid, oh how I love the colors you get from the square integral Polaroid film) as I can attain the kind of color and tone that I want, but 35mm is generally lacking. OT, somewhat, but that's been a big turn-off of digital for me. APS-sized color looks even more odd than 35mm and neither approach the palette of 6x6 for me.

  6. #6
    rbarker's Avatar
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    I think I mostly disagree with Ward's statement. Except for the selection of the color palette of the film, the "balancing" of color elements, at least with landscapes, is through compositional choice, not technique - unless deviations in processing result in color shifts (intentional or otherwise). Thus, I don't see one (color or B&W) as more difficult than the other, just different and involving different choices.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  7. #7
    BradS's Avatar
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    I find it much more difficult to do landscapes in B&W than in color but, maybe my landscapes just look like so much drug store trash.

    I think I'll pour myself another glass of cabernet.

  8. #8
    Daniel Lawton's Avatar
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    I shoot both B+W and color and IMO it completely depends on the subject matter. Some shots look much better in color and vice versa. I shoot more B+W because of the control I get in the development and darkroon stage but I often load up a second back with color transparency film and get some nice suprises when I put them on the light box.. Some feel that sticking to one or the other is a sign of focus but I feel as though I would be missing out if I didn't do both. As to which is harder? Its the one you're least familiar with.

  9. #9
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    It also depends on who is looking at the image. I have found that more people are pleased with and distracted by color. Trying to make a B&W work takes imagination and effort and some viewers just don't have the patience and imagination. I personally think that Black and White is more difficult because you have more options in exposure control on the whole, such as filters, etc. and it takes a bit more knowledge to pull a B&W off that pops, color can just look pretty and fool the masses.
    Thank you.
    CWalrath

    "Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti

  10. #10
    ksmattfish's Avatar
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    When I was shooting 99% BW I always thought color was harder. Now that I'm shooting more color I've realized that it can be much easier than BW at times. Sometimes the subject, situation, or lighting just screams for one or the other.

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