Color Versus B&W



I love this picture in color, AND, I love it in B&W.





I asked my wife which she liked best, she said, “I like them both, however, they each evoke a different emotion. They create two very different moods. The color is full of life and happiness making me want to go there. The B&W is full of mystery, drama  and wonder.  What lies beyond the fog?” I am frequently suggesting that B&W is a choice, and should be used with purpose. I believe the two versions here illustrate my point well.  Neither is better than the other, however, each creates a very different response from the viewer.  That is of course unless you’re Cole Thompson to which color is noise or Chuck Kimmerle who sees color as the anti-christ.  Which do you respond to?

A note for the Fuji fans out there.  I shot the entire trip to the Smokies with the X-E2. To say I am happy is an understatement.  I wanted to shoot the new X-T1, however, the Really Right Stuff “L” bracket did not arrive in time. The good news is they started shipping this week. This was shot with the 10-24mm zoom at 10mm which is effectively 15mm in the full frame world.  Very happy with this wide angle zoom from Fuji.

This entry was posted in B&W, Color, Creative, Smoky Mountains and tagged , , .


  1. Tom Singleton May 1, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    Hi John, you are correct, these are two entirely different shots. I would use the colored one for a travel magazine but the black and white evokes emotion, a mood. I like color but I am a sucker for black and white. Probably I still have pyro in my veins from the darkroom days.

    • john8276 May 1, 2014 at 9:54 am #

      I too am a sucker for B&W….

  2. robyn May 1, 2014 at 9:47 am #

    Both are great images, but I LOVE the black and white. Have a great day!

    • john8276 May 1, 2014 at 9:53 am #

      Thanks for the feedback Robyn

  3. Diana May 1, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    I love the color one, that being said once I saw the b/w I prefer it for the mystery and drama. If I had shot this I would have been happy with the color one and not pursued the b/w version. I will have to reconsider some past shots and think more b/w as a “purpose” in the future.

    • john8276 May 1, 2014 at 10:14 am #

      And now you have a new choice when you’re making your images Diana! Woo hoo!

  4. Sarah Marino May 1, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    Hi John – Just a quick note to let you know that I really love the black and white version – the mood, the starkness… I hope you had a wonderful trip to the Smokies.

    • john8276 May 1, 2014 at 11:27 am #

      Hey Sarah!! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a a comment. 🙂

  5. Eli Ormsby May 1, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    “Color is the Anti-Christ”. Snort, giggle! Seriously though, both images do have vastly different impacts. The color version feels very familiar in a way, as if someone with a similar vision to yours could create almost the same thing. The B&W, on the other hand, has a sense of “otherness” to it. Shot that way, it could be a familiar place to someone, but being as the image is B&W, they might not recognize it.

    • john8276 May 1, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      Oh trust me Kimmerle reviles color…. 🙂 Insightful comment Mr. Ormsby.

  6. Chuck Kimmerle May 1, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    The term “anti-christ” is a bit strong. I see color as . . . hmm . . . you know, maybe it IS a good word.

    • john8276 May 1, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

      I have been waiting all day for a response and you DID NOT let me down! 🙂

  7. Chuck Kimmerle May 1, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    I do not revile color. I just don’t respond to it. Sorta like asparagus and broccoli and Meg Ryan’s facelifts (okay, I do revile those).

  8. Steve Zigler May 1, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    That’s a fantastic image, John. I love the way the fog outlines the silhouette of the tree. The effect is more accentuated in BW, which makes it my preferred version. I’m sure the fog was moving very quickly. Well captured and presented!

    • john8276 May 1, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

      Thank you Steve. I too liked that feature of the fog.

  9. Peggie May 1, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

    I love both of them….in fact I love all of your work. I think you take the most exquisite photos and aspire to capture black and white images that would be half as wonderful as yours.

    • john8276 May 1, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

      Thank you for your kind comment Peggy. Be sure to follow Chuck and Cole. They are who I aspire to be. To me they are the current masters of B&W.

  10. Bob May 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    The b & w grabs the emotions much more so. Where does my emotion come from?
    I think being on dirt roads in my youth. This grabs me at that level.

    • john8276 May 4, 2014 at 8:51 am #

      Bob, thank you for your comment. I like that you’ve worked to understand the connection.

  11. Rich Lewis May 6, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    It is so fascinating how the same image can be so different. It is almost worthy as a project to explore. For me the best photograph would change with my mood.

    • john8276 May 6, 2014 at 9:17 am #

      And thus why B&W should be used as a choice with purpose. 🙂

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