Exercise: colour and black and white (page 33)

This exercise asks for thirty colour images and thirty black and white images, taken in a street photography style. I chose Park Square, Leeds for my shoot for several reasons. One, there would be quite a few people about, two, the park itself would provide opportunities for colour images to work well and three, the Georgian architecture was potential for successful black and white images. A bonus was that it was a sunny day and I thought the shadows could help my project.

I walked round the square for an hour taking images in colour, looking for colours that complimented or opposed each other, or where the colour was the main event. I looked for colours that would enhance my subject, where it would lose something if taken in black and white. As this was a summer day and people were sitting in the park, colour would enhance the mood of the day.

Then I set my camera to black and white so I could view monochrome as I walked around the square again. I took images that I thought would work well without colour; those areas of high contrast particularly, or scenes with a high tonal range to avoid my images looking flat. I was drawn to buildings, textures, fences and railings and geometric shapes generally, when working in this format.

Colour images

Image one

I chose colour for this image to display the primary colours of red and blue. In  monochrome the red of the door would look the same as the blue of the sign and the man’s shirt would just be paler against the red of the door he is standing in front of.

Image two

The yellow in this image is the subject itself so in black and white the purpose of the photograph would be lost. The reflection of the white and mint wedding dresses works well within the yellow frame created by the window.

Image three

The blue and green of the reflection of sky and trees in the window  make this window frame almost like a picture frame.

Image four

In black and white the deckchairs would be similar in tone to the grass. It is the vivid blue and green that is the subject of the photograph.

Image five

In this image the colours of the park reflected in the glass draw the eye into the office and create a depth beyond the chairs.

Image six

The only colour in this photograph is the red of the bottles and glass. In black and white this image would have no point of interest. However, in colour, the bottles in their monochrome setting become the focal point.


Black & white images

Image one

The white window frames and the black railings provide a pleasing contrast in black and white. The lack of colour adds to the feeling of abandonment of this below ground apartment.

Image two

Strong contrasts and geometric shapes are emphasised in black and white.

Image three

In this low view image, the road markings appear white like the wedding dresses at the end of the road and they lead the eye to the shop window display of gowns.

Image four

An image with contrasts and detail works well in black and white emphasising the shapes and shadows of the ornate railings.

Image five

Black and white photography has an elegance about it which suits the display of wedding gowns in this shop window display.

Image six

The different textures of the glass, stone and brick are emphasised in black and white format; the grouting against the bricks and the horizontal shadows against the stone.


Colour or Black & white?

With the image below I thought that both colour and black & white worked well but which won?

Here is the colour version:

And the black and white version:

I am considering why both work well. It is because there is contrast to provide interest in the monochrome image and the difference in shadow and sunlight down the steps adds a sunny mood.  In the colour image the green provides interest and the bottom of the wall in white is pleasing against the red brick. However, I am finding the blue of the boundary railings a bit too much information. I have the feeling that I don’t really want to know what colour the railings are painted. In this case, I prefer the black and white.

Which set do I prefer?

Neither. I think there is a place for colour and there is a place for black and white.

Contact Sheets

Contact sheets (black & white and colour)


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