Black and white can drastically change the mood of an image. But when should you edit in black and white over color? In this video, I’ll walk through 5 situations where editing in black and white may be the best option.
Video: 5 Reasons for Editing in Black and White Vs. Color
Black and white fundamentally behaves differently than color and should be approached differently. Without color, the image relies completely on tones and contrast and as a result, the final photo can feel entirely different. If you’re unsure about which direction to take your edit, here are 5 scenarios where you may prefer editing in black and white over color.
- The Image is “Timeless”
- Bad/No Color
- Emphasizing Light Quality & Texture
- Emphasizing Shapes & Patterns
- Accentuating Detail
Scenario #1: The Image is “Timeless”
Editing in black and white may be great for images that lack features that distinguish a specific time period (such as a car).
In each example, there’s a sense of “timelessness,” as though each photo could’ve been taken during any particular time period.
Scenario #2: Bad Color / No Color
If your scene has a bad mix of colors or simply lacks color altogether, black and white may be the best option.
This may happen at events where you might not have much control over the light.
Here’s another example where the only color is the model’s skin tone. In this case, editing in black and white seemed to be a better fit.
Scenario #3: Emphasizing Light Quality & Texture
In this example, I loved the soft light falling on my daughter. Eliminating color brought more focus on the softness of the light as it falls into shadow.
This next example features strong textures created by the hard light, especially in the walls and the shadows from the tree. Removing the colors in this situation helps use the tone to bring out the contrast in the textures.
Scenario #4: Emphasizing Shapes & Patterns
In each of these examples, color can be a bit of a distraction and there’s no real reason to keep the color in the image.
Removing the colors helps focus in on the shapes and patterns in the photos.
Scenario #5: Accentuating Detail
This is another scenario where editing in black and white can remove the distraction of color. Without clashing colors, black and white can bring the focus into the details in the image through contrast.
If your photo involves strong details such as tattoos, water, or intricate clothing, black and white may be your strongest option.
I hope you enjoyed this article/video. It’s important to remember how editing in black and white can completely change the feeling of your photo. These were all edited using Lightroom and for a complete course on editing, visit SLR Lounge Premium for the Mastering Lightroom course. You can also visit Visual Flow for the Black & White Mixer which we used to edit today’s example images.