Does an image work better in colour or black and white

Sometimes I look at an image and think that it should be black and white.  So how does one decide?

Well I think, and I am sure that there are many opinions on this, it depends on a few factors.

  • How close to monotone is it.
  • Do you want to bring out textures instead of colours
  • Is there plenty of detail that the viewer can explore instead of the visual hit of colour.
  • Is there dramatic tonal range that colour hides that becomes striking in black and white.

For example the following photograph in colour is very close to monotone and has lots of details and textural content so for me I would consider it as a black and white shot.  The tonal range is moderate but not dramatic so perhaps not a factor for consideration.  For me this photo is all about the textures of soft water versus rocks.



What do you think?


4 thoughts on “Does an image work better in colour or black and white

  1. Mike Powell

    Both images are beautiful, but with that framing I like the color version a bit more I think it’s because the orange color, which adds interest to the color version fades away when going to black and white and I’m left thinking there is perhaps too much sky showing. A tighter crop might focus attention even more on the beautiful textures of the rocks and water.

  2. Pat

    I have had photos like this, that were monochromatic and I tried removing the color. I found I preferred the color because they felt black and white but the color added a very subtle interest. Thanks for sharing your criteria for changing photos to B&W.


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