Black and white conversions that didn’t work as well

Talking about conversions, the feedback on yesterday’s black and white conversion was overwhelmingly positive. Thank you for sharing your opinion.

I decided to take two more photos for the Liberty Hill post and make black and whites out of them. I think the first one works pretty decently but not nearly as dramatically as yesterday’s. I love this building, it’s my favorite in Liberty Hill. It has simple details but such perfect, nearly symmetrical proportions. The black and white, perhaps, makes this simple building and composition even simpler — almost zen like. Too bad it has an attached building to the right (which btw, is Parker’s from yesterday’s photo). But in a way, it balances out the telephone pole to the left.

The Simple Brick Building - Liberty Hill, Texas (black and white)

The Simple Brick Building – Liberty Hill, Texas (black and white)

The second conversion is one that clearly didn’t do much. I don’t have a strong opinion on which I prefer, the color or the monochrome. I think the photograph works adequately to document the building and the town, but it lacks something. And because the base photograph wasn’t too exciting, making it black and white didn’t do much either.

The Bank Building - Liberty Hill, Texas (black and white)

The Bank Building – Liberty Hill, Texas (black and white)

I think both photographs suffer from flat lighting. There is no drama or sparkle to these images, unlike yesterday’s. And what makes the difference, surprisingly, is the lack of direct sun. Ironically, the harsh midday sun that I worried about is what creates the increase in texture and the interesting shadows. Maybe if I waited from the sun to peek out behind the clouds, things would be different.

What makes the first image stronger than the second is the simple composition. The Bank building and the surrounding details are ultimately too distracting.

Photograph taken with the Canon 6D with the Canon 24-105mm f4 L lens as part of the kit.

Click on the photographs to see a larger image and hover over the photos to see the exposure detail.

9 thoughts on “Black and white conversions that didn’t work as well

  1. I am thinking that the sky added something in the first photo. The clouds were better positioned. When you are taking a photo of a building, one doesn’t really think about the clouds or at least i would’t but it obviously makes a difference. I like the second building too, because of the old stonework. Maybe a different angle would make this building
    Look better. I guess I just learned something from your blog.Thanks! Good post. Keep them coming…

    1. Barbara, I agree with you. The clouds on the previous post were lovely. It certainly added a texture to the sky, without them it would be significantly boring.

  2. it’s bound to be flat. The viewpoint is.The building is viewed flat. Your first shot, yesterday was dramatic,vanishing point,dynamic composition, building at angle, Plus dramatic clouds.Best light is very early morning! Yeah right.Photographers get sunsets,,
    Ansel Adams got “Sunrises” also.. Tents,mules,i better stop. Just saying.jason gold

    1. The angle and clouds certainly helped. I have an example coming up where I have two shots from the identical viewpoint where one is flat and one isn’t.

  3. As I mentioned in my comment to your previous post, my criteria for choosing between colour and b&w is asking the question: Does the colour add anything to the image? What follows is not a criticism, more of a critical appraisal based solely on my own biases. In other words don’t pay too much attention to it.

    The first photo has a real flat feel to it which I like but with the b&w version the flatness leaves nothing for the eyes to rest on. There’s nothing there to anchor the viewer or lead the eyes and so the picture risks being ignored or judged as boring which would be a shame because it’s not. Looking at the colour version the colour blue jumps out immediately. Not because of the sky (that’s too obvious) but the handicap sign and the curtains. Those two details were enough to keep me looking at the photo and so in this instance I prefer the colour version.

    The second photo definitely doesn’t work for me in b&w. Whereas the first had the flat look going for it, this one is… too busy maybe or with too little contrast; I’m not sure. The colour version on the other hand has the colour blue come to the rescue once again. Here the blue balances out the picture; bins on one side and arch on the other. Plus the reflected sky in the windows is more noticeable. So again, the colour does add something to the image so I would go with the colour one.

    1. Thanks Cedric. A well thought out analysis and some things that I have not considered.

      And based on the feedback and looking at the pictures again, the clouds are also a major factor. The Bank picture doesn’t work on many different levels. Not awful but certainly nothing special.

  4. Have been reading your blog for a while without comment, but with the talk about black and white I thought I would jump in. As a long time mono photographer I have found that the power of digital gives us the luxury of working with toning that was so hard with a wet darkroom. I have seen, that straight black and white images, in many cases look flat with little depth but add some toning and it completely changes the 3D feeling of the photograph. Try it and compare, the feeling can completely change.

    1. Thank you Larry for you visit and comment.
      I will consider playing with some toning in the future.

      You have some wonderfully toned monochromes on your site.

  5. Interesting how we got some of the same shots from different perspectives. One of the other luxuries of digital is being able to control the greyscale tones of the individual color channels. I like the B&W shots myself. Maybe lightening the bank building or the sky would make it more interesting to you? A little more separation of tones could be an improvement. I sometimes use toning but not so much for my small town shots. I did apply a slight sepia to the residential image in my Liberty Hill blog post. Sometimes it just works but I try not to overuse tones, especially sepia. It becomes a little too cliche for me with subject matter such as old buildings.

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