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  • Writer's pictureBetty Girardeau

Why Color?

For most of us our world is filled with color. We plan our home decorating and attire based on color. We fill our gardens with blooming flowers. When we buy a new car, one of the major considerations is often what color it should be. Photography, movies, and television all were only in black and white at first but the developers knew that they would have happier customers if they could offer color options. We seldom see television in black and white these days unless the program is a documentary using old black and white movies and photographs. But in films and photography black and white has become its own special art form. Few movies these days are without color, but when they are, the director has made a conscious decision that the story he wants to tell is going to have a stronger impact in black and white. Sometimes he/she will use color in these films for dramatic impact, such as the little girl in the red coat in Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List." In today's digital photography our images are usually in color from the outset. The decision to reduce an image to black and white is an important one for the photographer, and I think I talked about that in an earlier blog. Sometimes having just a single color in an otherwise black and white image can have the sort of dramatic effect that Spielberg wanted in his movie. In photography this technique is called "selective color." Not all images lend themselves to this technique. But it is fun to find ones that might work, and, thankfully, our post processing programs make it fairly easy to do. If you go to Pinterest and look for the "53 Best Black and White with Color Images" you will find all kinds of examples. There are purists who believe that to highlight only one color or a splash of color in what is otherwise a black and white image is gimmicky or a cheap trick. For them an image should be either totally black and white or totally in color. But I think there are times when selective color adds just the right touch. We are naturally drawn to things that are different from everything else. I think that just as some images have greater impact in black and white than they would in color, it can be argued that some images have more of a Wow Factor if there is something in the picture that you really want to highlight, and selective color is the way to present it. I don't use this technique very often, but I do think there are some images that are improved by using it. Imagine the above image as either all in color or all in black and white, and then look again at this one and tell me what you think.

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