I usually shoot B&W, but when something pops up that begs to show off its color, I pick up my camera loaded with Velvia. Some scenes can only be rendered because of its color, specifically flowers or sunrises and sunsets, or an oddity that only shows itself by color. I taught my kids that B&W is best for abstracts of natures geometry, or textures. It takes a little practice, but soon you will see the differences and know instinctivly when to choose.
What is a master but a master student? And if that's true, then there's a responsibility on you to keep getting better and to explore avenues of your profession.
Great examples of subtle colour, Matt. I don't know about the OP, but this is giving me some inspiration. Thanks.
Originally Posted by MattKing
-- A sinister little midget with a bucket and a mop / Where the blood goes down the drain --
I too very much like MattKing's subtle colour shots. Inspirational indeed!
Like the OP, I too experience a little anxiety in this regard, and find that I make a conscious choice to go out for the day with one or the other. I mostly shoot B/W for which I use cameras from 35mm to 7x5, all manual with seperate metering (I love getting involved with the nitty gritty of exposure etc,) but now and again I'll take out the Minolta x-700 loaded with velvia, set the dial to 'Program' and just revel in the carefree auto everything approach. Thanks to the meter in that camera, the results (exposure wise at least!) are usually spot on.
I used to carry one body loaded with black and white film and one with colour, but later decide that I couldn't "see" in both at the same time, and for more than twenty years have shot more than ninety percent of my work shot C41 or E6.
I also have a hard time switching modes of seeing. The metering differences and so on are just technique and can be learned, but whatever mental mechanism is responsible for saying "Look! A picture!" is tough to recalibrate. When switching back and forth, as I have been this week while on vacation, I find I keep having my attention caught by compositions that then make me say "oops, wrong medium". Or else I don't say it, and find out later that the photo that would have worked great in color has turned to mush as all the subtle variegations of green came out as the same middle grey.
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_
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Nathan is right. Even after many years of shooting both B&W and color, it was difficult to think in both modes in the same outing. It wasn't a matter of metering, which had become routine. It was all about seeing. Recently I've began to try most B&W in large format and color in digital. Perhaps it helps, or perhaps in my declining years it doesn't matter as much.
My medium is B&W but just for the fun of it or call it an experiment why not have someone other than the photographer load two cameras - one with color and one b&w of the same ISO and take two different focal length lenses. Go out and shoot concentrating only on subject and composition. Expose at box speed and meter for the subject and lighting conditions not worrying about the subtle differences between the types of film since you would not know which was in each camera. See what comes up after processing.
I.M.O the parameters that make a successful monochrome pictures in form of tones and shades of grey are a completely different ball game from the colour contrasts that make good colour images, an old friend of mine a lady who is a photojournalist who's been shooting nothing but black and white images for more than twenty years was complaining the last time I saw her that she had been working for a couple of weeks on an assignment in Africa for Christian Aid (a charity) who needed colour pictures for an ad campaign, she was complaining that it had ruined her vision she couldn't visualize images in black and white any more, I personally try to stick to colour either C41 or E6 for my personal work.
I carry two cameras which operate differently. For instance a Pentax K-1000 and an ME Super. I'll load the K-1000 with Legacy Pro and the ME Super with Elite Chrome. Sometimes it will be a Yashica Mat versus a Pentax, etc., etc.
Originally Posted by brian steinberger
It is the different feel of the camera and/or the method of operation that puts my brain into color mode or black and white mode. It almost works like a switch.
I photograph mostly black and white. I'll often run through a roll of film each time I go out but a roll of color can last me for a couple of weeks. As I run around, I'll either sling both cameras or leave the "color" camera in the car if the weather isn't too extreme. If I'm walking along and I see a sunset or a colorful kite or a butterfly, etc. I'll reach for the color camera and, by the time I have it adjusted and focused the way I want, the feel of the controls and the way they operate are what make me think, "Color."
I have the same problem. When I carry both B&W and COLOR, I tend to shoot mediocre images on both. I have trouble seeing scenes in both modes at the same time or switch fast enough. It also becomes the source of major annoyance and mental block preventing me to evaluate the scene. For me, it can't be the equipment as the same happens with digital. (where I can convert to B&W after the fact)
These days, I only carry one or the other - which often ends up just B&W.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?