Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

February 20, 2008

Bias against Color images

Filed under: Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 5:12 am

Pagoda and Crane

Recently I had to face a not so nice fact, I had a bias against color images. Now I knew that I was not a people photographer, preferring the landscape, usually sans people. That was all that I needed to create a nice metaphor. I also know that I usually photographed in color but happily did my Black and White mojo to create some very nice Black and White images.

I was happy to be labeled a Black and White xxxx landscape photographer (for xxx you can add your label; urban, social, lifestyle, etc.) So why the non-interest in color when most folks today do color images?

Well, thats what I had to dig into. Recently I have been very interested in my color images that I create my Black and White images from. I know that yesterday Martin added in the comments some good reasons to help decide between the two options. By why my reluctance to REALLY consider a color image?

I guess to begin with, I have spent about 20+ years really getting to know the black and white photographic materials, be it in the wet darkroom or now digitally. I can closely visualize most scenes as they might appear in a final Black and White image. I used to be able to apply different film development combinations to change the contrast as well as what to do in the wet darkroom with paper grades and paper development combinations. Now I have the ACR 4.2 tool box in combination with PS3 curves and the black and white adjustment layers. Add to that the different local curve adjustment layers and I can really move the tonality around. I really have not spent the time to figure out how to do that with color. Yet.

Like wise, my early experience with color was not that great. Slides created contrasty prints and and I was totally dependent on the film and print processor for my color negatives, and that was not usually a good experience either. But I could develop and print my own Black and White negatives and prints. And the ‘fine art’ community endorsed Black and White and looked way down on the C prints, which were fast faders in those days. Also very difficult to print well with your home color printing kit.

So I became a black and white image guy. I was very happy! Until recently, as I now start to ‘see’ color compositions that seem to work better in color images. And I look to my left, and there sits my Epson 4800 which does not know that it is suppose to only print in Black and White. It keeps thinking and trying to tell me; Oi! I have these other color cartridges, so use them!

Thats when I realized that I have been carrying this bias against color images. A combination of a lot of accumulated knowledge of one kind of photography, and a inherent reluctance to learn another. I think that this is about to change, hopefully for the better!

Some of you must be at this time thinking, bias against color, where has he been?? Truth is we all carry some kind of preference for one method and thus a bias against the opposite, such as someone who only does Color images, they thus have a bias against Black and White! So what are your bias’s that might be holding you back??

Well, Color images will not be a limitation for me now;- )

Best regards, Doug (a guy who still loves Black and White, but will try Color when it seems to work better)


  1. Lesson to learn for us all: For us to change the way we think and behave, we first have to acknowledge the need for a change. This is really difficult since we tend to dig our nose so deep into our old habits that we don’t notice what other things we could have done.

    Good luck on your color journey.

    Comment by Kjell Harald — February 20, 2008 @ 11:55 am

  2. […] think this little rant was spurred some posts over at Doonster and Singular Images, and if I remember right, Behind The Lens before that (can’t find that post right now). But […]

    Pingback by How much color « Lentic - photography — March 4, 2008 @ 9:20 pm

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