It’s your vote at home that counts

I am reading a ‘serious’ book about post processing. I was looking at some of my Flickr favourites yesterday and it was eating away at me. Some of these people just have amazing vision and creativity. I noticed also how well some of the images were presented. The most ‘damning with faint praise’ remark I ever received was ‘you are a very competent documentary photographer’. Oh s**t! Really? That’s awful. My mind is becoming tied in knots worrying why I can’t ‘see’. It must be genetic. Can you really teach yourself to have a better eye? I know you can in theory. And I know the theory. It just goes in one eye and out the other.

Nevertheless I started to immerse myself in “The Book” in the hope that at least my post processing might improve.  I have not read very far yet but there are some interesting learnings already. So I crept into the crypt of my Lightroom Catalogue to see what might crawl out that I could play with. I picked one shot and processed it in colour and then in monochrome. I just wondered whether either of them works. So here goes – please vote on the images below.

And as an afterthought I suppose I ought to post them.

Cloistercolour Cloistermono

You can try the Clapometer too, but I don’t think it will be heard very well in Sai Kung. Thank you.


39 thoughts on “It’s your vote at home that counts

  1. Very often I’m drawn to black and white photography, but this is one time when I definitely choose the color. There’s a richness or texture and a sense of depth in the color.

  2. Interesteing accompanying article there- it’s all relative. Wilkonson & Pickett discussed it (to death) in The Spirit Level, but I came across the same thing in, argh…I’m going to say Gladwell’s David and Goliath, could have been Arielly’s Predictably Irrational.

    What I do, Andrew, is to compare my pictures to…my pictures. Am I gettting any better? When that still doesn’t get the required result, I ask myself WHY am I doing this? Why am I taking pictures? Do I still love it, the process? That usually does the trick.

    Now, I realize this is YOUR blog, but in closing 😉 with colour vs black and white, the litmus test for me is whether colour is the essence of the picture (with birds, flowers and sunsets, well, it probably is). If not- I’m a b&w junkie and I’ll almost always prefer it, it’s less distracting, more focused.

    Here, I do indeed prefer it, and this is in fact a great example of why: the foreground ini the b&w (the celing especially) is alive with detail and depth, not so the colour version. And, as the theme here is repetition, the b&w achieves that far better.

    • Thanks Steve. I also look back at my earlier images. Most disappoint but a few surprise and I feel I just see them differently. The best question remains “why did you press the shutter”. Sometimes I’m testing, some times experimenting but often I look back and can’t answer the question. Who was it said it takes years to be one an overnight success?

  3. Take photos the way you want to, and process them the way you want to – in other words take images you like rather follow what ever rules the books say. There, rant over!

    By the way, I liked both versions of the image!

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

  4. for me both are appealing for very different reasons. The colour version appeals to me from an editorial stand point, I could see this in a magazine where as the black and white version has a more artistic feel.

  5. Thank you for this exciting option to vote! I like the coloured one better as it gives more warmth and atmosphere to the beautiful photo.

  6. I will go for what appeals most, but since I also focus some of my time of photo journalism I would wan´t the answer, what are the image suppose to be for before I answer the questions, since both types attracts in different ways..

    • Katarina, it is a shot taken in the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia. Its purpose was solely documentary originally. Here it is to help me develop my post processing skills.

      • Yes, but it is hard to answer the question of what is best if the pic has no purpose. Is the purpose only processing I guess it is beauty and then I stick with what I said.

  7. I voted for colour. I could see the details in the archway and columns better, could imagine what it felt like to be present in that location.
    I am shocked by your self-doubt. You have extraordinary camera skills, esp photographing tiny, quick birds, and a good eye. I hope to produce images like yours one day! Keep up your wonderful work and don’t let the critics get you down.

    • Thank you Caroline for your kind comments. I think self doubt is sometimes a good thing. But it also means I need a steer otherwise I get stuck in a rut. If you plateau, you need something to move yourself up. I’m still searching for that elusive next rung.

  8. I like them both. But as the colour image is almost monochrome anyway I liked the warmth. It also seemed to present the sunshine more effectively.

    If I hadn’t seen the colour I would ha been very satisfied with the monochrome.

    Don’t listen to those twitter what’s’its. Your work is very fine and you have a very good eye.

  9. I was one of only four (so far) to choose the monochrome. The reason is, I find it easier to see all of the details in this palate, whereas the top half of the human being was a blur in the color, at least to my little eye. Perhaps I have a twinge of color blindness or something…

    But I generally prefer monochrome, for aesthetic reasons as well. With one less “dimension,” the photographer must capitalize on the remaining dimensions. The true skill shines through…or the competent documentary photographer remains.

    In the case of the photo above (monochrome version), your sense of rhythm in lining up this shot is so much more apparent on the columns in the second version. The human being becomes (appropriately) incidental to the timeless creation being explored. In fact, the monochrome emphasizes the antiquity, as well.

    It’s a great, artistic photograph, by the way!

    • Thank you very much. It is incredibly helpful to understand why something works. My natural tendency is to monochrome unless I am shooting wildlife. I often look back at my father’s shots and he used primarily B&W film, self-processed. I think some of that has rubbed off on me.

      It is pleasing that you get a sense of the antiquity. Much appreciated.

  10. Lottie has done a fine job of encouragement and I agree with her, Andrew.

    YES!!! You can learn to see differently than you do now. I am not saying you need to, just that you can. I refuse to look at 99.99% of the transparencies I did prior to 2003. They just remind me of all the wasted time and film from the days when I did not have a clue. I am still amassing clues but I have come a long way. It is through working, looking at what you’ve done and what you might do differently and sometimes , if possible, revisiting a site and shooting it again. One can learn composition by practice and studying the work of others…not copying but learning.
    Your work with birds, insects and street is excellent. I think you have an eye for landscape too, but you don’t practice it much…or at least you don’t show it much. If HK doesn’t allow you the grand vistas then go intimate for some of the attractive details. The same theories that work for painting apply to photography as well. Anyway, I hope I am making sense and offering some encouragement too.
    As far as my choice…I prefer the color. The strong right side I find a bit too much (crop maybe?) so the color draws me to the distance and away from the wall more than the monochrome. But I like either for the way you have used the architecture (can we call those arches?) to brings us to the person in the distance and the nice diagonal shadows. I think it is a fine composition.
    OK, I’ve gone out on a limb here as I hate this sort of thing because I can be so off the wall sometimes.

    • Steve, its very constructive. Not at all off the wall. I take comfort that I can learn but I do sense some people have a natural eye and just see things differently. I shall keep plugging away for now and I like the idea of revisiting. I find that very helpful when I can go in with more of a plan and an awareness of what I might try. Its just frustration creeping in.

      • Whew! Thanks, Andrew. I am never comfortable with giving advice or critiques.

        Whenever possible it is good to scout a location. I was doing that yesterday and lucked out with those clouds.

  11. My preferences re B&W or colour are simple: I always prefer travel shots in colour, because they’re there to inform us of what a place looks like. B&W is really for the sake of the art. Does that make sense, Andrew ?

    • Not sure, M.R.

      I understand exactly what you are saying but sometimes I’m not sure how I will treat the shot in the end. Is it art? Here there is no attempt at claiming Fine Art but sometimes I just like the textures and tones of black and white more. A bit of drama perhaps too. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.

  12. I prefer the colour image, at least I did until I scrolled back and looked at the monochrome and preferred that and then the colour. All in one eye and out the other with me as well I’m afraid. Superb images both.

  13. In this case the images with the colours – I can almost feel the warm sunlight and imagine how warm the stones will be. Black and white is too cold and harsh, it does not do anything for me in this shot.

      • I noticed – in this case it works. I looked at today’s picture, and I know you don’t want to have a vote, but that’s actually better in monochrome as the colours are too distracting, I don’t know where to look.

        I’ve got the same challenge as you – I process most of my pictures very differently and there is no consistent style. Only a few of mine are converted in B&W and those are usually the ones that just don’t work in colour…

        Let me know how you get on with your Lightroom processing, I’d be keen to read your insights.

      • I found Gary’s video on processing for B&W helpful. I’m sure you and Patrick saw it. I developed my own ‘flat file’ preset and then created one or two SIlver Efex custom presets. I am trying to work out whether they work consistently for me to adopt as ‘my’ preferred style. I’ve used LR for a few years. I jumped in at LR3 and I like it but I feel I have only scratched the surface of what it can do. I had not really thought about having a style, only interpreting images. But there are people whose work is instantly recognisable and perhaps thats the answer. Consistency coupled with creative vision.

  14. I hate having to choose, but the reason that I chose the colour over the monochrome was that the architecture suggested heat and that worked for me. You lack confidence Andrew and you really shouldn’t. Your photographic skills are fantastic and YOU do have an EYE. Don’t let the odd critic wear you down. In private, and sometimes publicly I’m berated about my grammar, spelling etc but I enjoy what I do and so should you. You make beautiful pictures, be proud 😀

  15. Personally I think the colour provides more texture. Normally in a contrast image like this B&W is best and certainly works but the texture and gradations in colour are very pleasing.

I'd be delighted to hear what you think

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