It’s a personal thing
A noted photographer once said that a good color image is a a good black and white image. I agree. But this needs some decision-making. The picture below has all the necessary elements for a good black and white image – the patterns and lines of the tree’s bare branches is enough to carry the picture. I could have easily converted it to monochrome. I did not. Why?
The colored backdrop of a late afternoon sky, that’s why. In black and white, the picture above would not be missing anything, except of course color. The subject itself which is the tree is already colorless, and it’s just a matter of converting the sky into shades of gray. Here’s where it becomes a personal thing. A picture will always be a matter of how the photographer sees it, defines it and presents it. He could color the tree yellow, green or blue, and that’s his art and imagination, though that doesn’t count as factual photography. I opted for what’s real and presented it the way I saw and captured it that late afternoon – a bare colorless tree reaching out into patches of orange sky. I decided on that realism. Photography is not only the art of seeing but also the process of thinking how an image is best presented. That relies on a photographer’s judgment. It’s a personal thing. A photographer knowledgeable and trained in the art will always know what’s best, both for himself and for his viewers.