Old School Film Hack

Poll: Which do you like better?


Here’s a dilemma for you…  I’ve always liked color and monochrome images, and feel that there is a place for both depending on the image intent, subject, conditions, and other artistic criteria.  However, I’ve always had a vocal minority of viewers that insist — nay, DEMAND(!) — that I stick only with color images because… well, just because!

The excuses offered up about why are difficult to pin down, but they’re always there.  So here’s where you come in, dear readers: which do you prefer?

The images here of the Point Lookout lighthouse were taken at different times on the same day with the same camera, but with different lenses.  The color images were captured later — closer to when the sun went down — so they were shot with a faster lens with a narrower field of view.  Other than that, they are essentially the same.

Please look at them and vote in the poll down at the bottom of the page.

22 thoughts on “Poll: Which do you like better?

  1. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography)

    I love Black & White, but on this occasion, I prefer the colour version. The tonal range catches my eye more.

    Secondly, its your blog, so post whatever you like on it.

    In general, I prefer under-exposed images, as my 40 years of wearing gas permeable contact lenses has left me with corneal exhaustion, and now that I have to wear glasses full time, my eyes are super-sensitive to light. I notice many photographers on the internet over-saturate their colours and over-edit their images, so they tend to lose my interest (even if they’re brilliant professional nature photographers). But I have started increasing the colour and contrast in-camera, simply, because it draws in the viewers.

    Both the top two colour images are just perfect in my opinion, although the second colour image is perhaps more balanced in light & shade in the overall composition (to my eye).


    1. M_Zeissler Post author

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      I, too, love black and white images, especially when they are well executed, like any of the masterpieces by Ansel Adams. However — by my own observation over the years — I have noticed that color images tend to draw in the viewers better than monochrome images do… unless the monochrome image is particularly striking. And while I may be creating all the content for this site and paying an annual fee for WordPress to host it, much of what is seen here is actually the product of both direct and indirect two-way dialog with you, the reader. After all, if I post content that no one is interested in viewing, then what’s the point?

      For example:

      When I first jumped over to WordPress from Google’s Blogger platform, I began by using a site template that emphasized the photo content. However — within hours of going live — some of my older readers were commenting about the changes, saying that the size of the text (small), the general background (textured gray), the text background (very dark gray), and the text color (lighter gray) were too difficult to read for their aging eyes and could I change it to something that would allow them to continue following it? So I did — even though I felt the original design highlighted the images better.

      Likewise, when I see a spike in the traffic stats for a particular day, I try to figure out what the specific draw is: image, subject matter, color, etc. And if it’s something I feel I can incorporate into my content creation, then I do so. However, that’s not to say I’ll be switching over to just posting dreamy photos of cute kittens anytime soon (big grin).

      Regarding your eye comments: I can relate to being super-sensitive to light. From the very earliest, photos display me squinting my eyes nearly shut anytime I’m in a photo that was taken outside. And to this day I need far less light to see around the house than my wife does, much to her irritation.


    2. Mike Grant

      I too have always preferred black and white (I just retired my darkroom I’ve had since the 70s) for certain shots but in this particular case I do lean toward the color. I think if I were picking out details and/or textures I would still go monochrome but overall these images, I think, need to be color. By the way, thanks for the like!!


  2. wsolarsurfer

    I like more the black and white photographs.
    In my case and with some photos I prefer enjoy the black and white and let imagine the colours for my imagination.
    I don’t know. It’s tricky to explain, but from my point of view, “black and white” photographs express much more.


  3. Elisa

    the color ruined the black and white!
    the sun made such a nice hello on the yellow, that i just miss it in the black and white images
    Had I seen the black and white first, well, I like noticing more the shapes and the lines. I also suppose that the black and white contribute to romantic ideals and memories of the words light house, the shapes and the grains being more evident.
    The yellow and the blue, have an additional color wheel effect too.
    I’ve only had one swallow of tea. I hope that I made complete thoughts 🙂


    1. M_Zeissler Post author

      Yup! You made sense to me!

      I like the top one and the third one best, but for different reasons. The top one has color that I like, while the third one has a lot more details that I wish were in the color version.


  4. iseebeautyallaroundbyrobpaine

    I typically prefer black in white but in this case I went with the color versions for the following reasons
    1. I think the colors in these buildings are interesting and add a lot to the photos
    2. I thought the burning was a little too much which affected the overall look of the black and white more than it did the look of the color.
    3. The dark look of the black and white diminishes the detail in the photos here diminishes the subtleties a tad too much for my taste.

    I think the photo with the lighthouse on the left would be fantastic in black and white if you bring up the shadows a little on the side of the house. It is so burned down you almost lose the lighthouse. I would also like to see a little more
    medium or white tones in the clouds.

    All that being said, I find processing black and white photos on a computer very challenging so much so I long for my old Bessler enlarger and black and white darkroom.

    What software do you use to process your BandW or do you make prints and then scan them?

    Great conversation and thank for offering the question up. You always post great work. Rob


    1. M_Zeissler Post author

      Thanks for the comments — I appreciate them all, including those that offer constructive criticism!

      It’s interesting how all of the photos look so different on the screen of a Windows 7 PC; when I did my post-processing to them within Lightroom 5 on my Retina-display Mac, the finished images weren’t so dark looking and blocked up in the blacks and shadow areas. There’s also banding on the PC renderings that doesn’t exist on the Mac renderings; with the Mac, the banding vanishes and it’s a beautifully smooth gradient. In my eyes the Mac version offers a truer rendering of the display gamut than the PC version does — from the whitest whites to the darkest blacks, with excellent shadow details.

      I find that producing high quality images to be much more challenging than creating paper-based prints via an enlarger and a traditional wet darkroom. For instance, I try to view the end results on all the major browsers for PCs and Macs (Firefox, IE9, Chrome, and Safari), as well as smartphone and tablet browsers. And they all display the text formatting differently, the image placement differently, the images differently, and the columns differently. Things that look great and line up correctly on the desktop browsers, often look amiss or downright awful on the mobile devices. And if I use the default Mobile Theme solution offered by WordPress, then the load times are blazingly fast… but then the formatting, overall design, custom color scheme, custom fonts, and other design elements are utterly destroyed.

      I do all of my post-processing with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5, on a 13-inch MacBook Pro. The only prints I make are for gift calendars I create for my family at the end of the year.


  5. Tillerman

    I think it is a good idea to make your text legible to readers (especially those like me with less then perfect eyesight.) Gray on gray may look very arty but isn’t always easy to read.

    As for B&W vs color photos, hey it’s your blog – you should post whatever you think looks best.


    1. M_Zeissler Post author

      I completely agree on making the text more accessible to readers, and it’s good to be reminded of design details like that from time to time.


    1. M_Zeissler Post author

      Agreed. That’s why I normally push color a lot. I don’t normally get a lot from black and white sunset photos or flower shots…


  6. starbuck5250

    I like the colour because that’s what my eyes are used to. Having said that, monochrome can be stunning BECAUSE it’s the exception. I really liked the wide angle monochrome shot but the glint of the sun on the sea is what really makes it pop for me over the colour version. The closer in shot looks marvelous in colour and doesn’t quite grab me as strongly in monochrome. That’s a long way to say that I like colour most of the time, but there are special photos where monochrome really, really fits. And I trust your judgment. 🙂


    1. M_Zeissler Post author

      There used to be resistance to digital images of any kind for many years. I can remember having to get digital images converted to E-6 slides if I wanted to submit them for competitions or exhibits. I figure monochrome will eventually be accepted as well, especially as film stock keeps getting phased out.


  7. Son of Sharecroppers

    I am usually a fan of black-and-white. Here, though, I prefer the color images in both cases. In the upper pair of images, the black-and-white does not (I think) have enough contrast in value on the sides of the main building. In the lower image, the building at the lower right competes too much with the larger building.


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