When mono doesn’t always work

Although I largely take black and white photographs there are occasions when I will convert a colour RAW file to mono, only to think that the image looks much better in colour. Stripping out colour can eliminate unwanted distractions in a picture, but equally the colours and harmony of these tones can be at the very heart of the image, so why remove them? As I always shoot in RAW I have a digital negative which contains all the colour data, so it gives me the option of a straight mono conversion or working in colour, whichever I think is the best treatment for the image.

During my recent trip to the Lake District there were two shots I really liked and whilst one is fine in black and white, I much prefer the colour version.

Here are both versions by way of comparison – 
Elterwater trees
and now for the colour version –
Elterwater trees in colour
Trees at Elterwater in Langdale

I didn’t even consider converting the next shot to monochrome….the colours in the image are just too important in my opinion and make the shot. The warm tones of the foreground contrasting well with the cooler tones in the middle and far distance. These would be lost in a black and white conversion.

Watsons Dodd
Looking towards Watson’s Dodd
taken near to the road from Keswick to Thirlemere
This has though made me think. Am I too restrictive in my choice of shot? Should I consider taking more colour images and not be trying to see the world in shades of grey? Surely there is room for both mediums. There can only be a handful of black and white photographers who never shoot in colour. Similarly most photographers who predominately shoot in colour will occasionally take a black and white picture. At the end of the day this is purely a hobby for me, and therefore it’s all about the ‘taking and making’ of images which give me pleasure but hopefully might please others as well. Whether they are black and white or colour doesn’t really matter. After all it’s simply a matter of personal preference and interpretation.

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