Comparing Color To B&W For Viewer Impact


Mattamuskeet Light, B&W Conversion

B&W or Color, The Eternal Question!

Wow, talk about a loaded topic!  I have ALWAYS preferred B&W over color, but until recently the public voted with their dollars for color over B&W about 3 to 1.  Along came Infrared and the trend totally reversed!  So I find myself looking at B&W conversions of my color images each and every time I sit down in front of the computer!  This is especially true in Infrared also.

What this means is that as I post process my color images I also do a B&W version just to be sure…


After doing my RAW conversion and basic cropping for my master image library size I use the Nik filters in the following way…

Color Work Flow:

  • Nik Define 2.0 – In the auto mode simply select the defaults and check OK to complete.  If needed you can switch over to Manual and add extra control points in noisy areas but make sure you select the measure noise button before clicking OK.  This process cleans up the  the image but doesn’t reduce clarity!
  • Nik Color EFX 4.0 – I usually run the Tonal Contrast recipe but always try the Warmth and Brilliance and others as well.  This is to sharpen and adjust the saturation levels!
  • Nik Viveza – Overall spot corrections.
  • Flatten Layers and save as a 16 bit PSD file with a usable name keeping the camera image serial number as part of the name.

B&W Work Flow:

  • Always run through this workflow after finished with your color processing.  Never switch your camera over to it’s B&W internal mode.  You will get better conversions using the Post Processing!
  • Nik Silver EFX 2.0 – Boy this is a tough one.  There are so many recipes plus millions of individual adjustments.  For me I usually use the Basic recipe, or the Full Spectrum recipe (my choice most of the time) but for some images the Wet Rocks recipe is too magic to overlook!
  • Under Image > Mode select B&W than flatten the layers keeping the image in the 16 bit mode.
  • Save As giving the image a new name with BW in the name field.

That’s all there is to my workflow from the color world.  Infrared is much different and you can read great volumes about it on my IR blog at:

infraredatelier.wordpress.com

OK, here are some color/B&W comparisons for you to ponder over…

Capt James, Very Moody & interesting image

But, check out how the B&W version draws you into the image and smacks you around a little!  Both images are good but the B&W works better for me!

Emotionally Charged, Moody... Perfect!

B&W - Down & Out, Moody, Nice but a little plain don't you think?

But the Color image is something else!

The Color version tells more of a story and works better!

As you can see, I like the Color version much better.  This goes to prove that you never know which is going to work out the best so you should process for both each and every time!

What do YOU think?

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