Power of B&W

Converting a color photo to black and white is a pretty standard way to turn a mediocre photo into a good photo. We’ve all done this in an attempt to hide bad light, rough color, or to make a grainy photo work. But there are many other reasons to shoot color and convert to black and white. With three channels worth of of data (R-G-B) you can get much more depth to your images when you combine those three into one channel for grayscale. And then of course there are situations where there simply isn’t enough ambient light to make good color photography.

Grainy black and white photos can work. The trick is to make a conscious decision to that you’re shooting for black and white, as opposed to using it as a catch-all technique for when you take crappy pictures. On Friday night my Dr. Girlfriend and I went out with a few of her friends for a pre-birthday dinner for her, and afterwards we stopped into a West Village bar to have a few drinks and to play some pool. I was able to get some fun shots of the ladies playing, despite the fact that the place was lit with just a very yellow overhead light.

The only post production on these photos was converting the RGB raw files to grayscale, and some minor tweaks with the curves.

Pool 01

I love the abstract quality of this one – it’s someone playing pool, but the shapes make it a really interesting composition.

Pool 04

The depth of field makes this one.

Pool 06

And of course the lovely Dr. Girlfriend is a great addition to any photo I make.

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