Color or black and white, which do you like? (#2)

Keli, a portrait with strobes - Austin, Texas
Keli, a portrait with strobes - Austin, Texas (black and white)

Keli, a portrait with strobes – Austin, Texas

One last set of model photos before I turn my attention to something else. Ready for the 2nd installment of “Color or Black and White, which do you like?”

I did the first of this series last month, a street photograph from San Francisco. This time, it’s a portrait with two radio triggered strobes with a black back drop. There was a large soft box on the left and a smaller fill light on the right.

I shot a bunch of shots of Keli in the living room, this is my favorite from the strobe setup in the garage. In this case, the black and white, really didn’t simplify anything, like it usually tends to do. But it definitely alters the mood. I think they both work but which do you like?

Chime in with your opinion. Which do you like better the color or the black and white version?

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14 thoughts on “Color or black and white, which do you like? (#2)

  1. I think I actually prefer the coloured one on this. I think it gives her better definition and grabs me more. I find the b&w one I kinda lose the impact of the prettiness of her and her features seem to disappear – cheeks, nose etc blend into her face too much.

  2. I tend to like B&W, but I don’t like the conversion on this one for some reason… I think it’s her right arm. It’s so bright it really draws the eye and unbalances the photo in my opinion. I don’t find it as much of a problem in the color version.

      1. Yes, compared to your other black and whites she has a little too much glow and it’s not a high-key photo. I still like the portrait except for that arm. The rest of the photo fades toward black except for the bright white that leads you right off the page. I imagine it was closest to the light highlighting it even more.

      2. Charles, I wonder if I had my brightness set low on my monitor during conversion (I’ve been experimenting with a new device, of which I have not talked about yet on this blog) . I’m out of town right now but I might have to revisit this conversion later.

  3. I usually prefer B&W but the conversion doesn’t work here for me. B&W needs different lighting than color when using flash. That’s the problem with a lot of B&W studio work today. The photographers are using the same lighting for both and it’s color techniques they are using. Did you take incident light readings of both flashes with a hand held meter? Seems the ratio is too high with the key light too hot and the fill light not even filling anything in. Their is no catch light from the fill light in her eye.

    1. There may have been a meter reading taking in the initial setup but not between model changes. I was wondering during our shoot if the fill on the right was setup correctly since it did look dark on the camera’s LCD.

  4. Like Tom Swoboda above, I have a bias for B&W when it comes to portraits but in this case the straight conversion doesn’t work for me. The lighting is wrong. As Tom points out the ratio between the two sources is too high and her features have disappeared because of it.
    Of course I say all this like I’m some sort of expert but I can assure you that you have done better with both shots then I could have, so don’t go by my opinion.

  5. I’m more of a black and white guy but I’d say probably the color looks better here. This could be a moody B&W but as others have suggested her well lit arm takes away from a dark mood. While I’m no expert either, I think the light would have worked better if she were turned the other way. Her arm was the closest thing to the key light so it’s getting as much or more of the light than her face. The broad light hitting the widest part of her arm makes it look larger than it is and is not very flattering. The light ratio is a bit strong and the fill is doing very little if anything. That was a 50″ sofbox in close so the light on her shadow side might just be wrap-around from the key. The fill was a fairly small hard source of light compared to the key and since there is no evidence of the fill light source in her eyes I’m wondering if it got bumped by someone and was just firing past her. I do like her almost mischievous grin and the glint of her shadow side eye peaking around her hair.

  6. Unlike last month where I went back and forth and ultiately preferred the B&W this time, for me, this go round the color is a clear winner. It’s softer and the lovely expression on her face is the first thing that captures my eye and it stays there for quite a while. The expression seems seductive. In the B&W, while I’m obviously drawn to her face, I feel it’s the high (maybe even harsh?) contrast is what captures my eye and not her expression.

    I haven’t read any of the other comments yet so it will be interesting to see how the group is trending.

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