Lesson 5

Black & White vs Color

In this lesson we explore why some photos look better in color while others are transformed into amazing artworks when presented in black & white.  

We will hear the perspectives of both local and international professional photographers on what they think makes for great Black and White images.  

You will produce your own black & white/color image comparisons and offer insights into the processes you have used.

Success Criteria:

By the end of these lessons, you will have used your phone or camera in manual mode to capture images.

Photoshop will have been used to edit images and create B/W and Color comparisions.

Answer’s to questions and image files will be uploaded to OneDrive and Shared with your teacher.




“Don’t be afraid of being different.  Be afraid of being the same as everybody else”. 






When you see this icon with the question mark a response from you is required. These responses need to be uploaded to OneDrive and shared with me.

Don’t forget our deal with Adobe so that you can get Photoshop on your home computer for only a handful or two of dollars!

Black & White Photography

I photographed a wedding in Venice, Italy last year.  The architecture was spectacular and the bride and her dress immaculate.  But I had a dilemma with this particular image.  I wasn’t sure if I liked it best in color or in black and white!

Like most decisions in the ‘art’ world, deciding on which version to use comes down to personal preference.

Black and White can be a really good tool for simplifying a scene and the relationships within it.  I tend to use black and white when I have a background that is competing for attention instead of complimenting the main subject.  And this was the issue I had with this shot.  Was it an image of a beautiful hall with a bride standing in it, or was it a portrait of a bride standing in a beautiful hall?

I gave both version to the couple and absolved myself from having to choose which to give them.  Interestingly, the bride chose this as a large (3 metre long edge) print and went for the black and white version.

Photographer’s Perspective:

So what goes into capturing an image like this?
St Marco Square is one of the busiest places in Venice. It is teaming with tourists fairly much all year around.  To get a photo with virtually no tourist clutter makes this image quite unique.  I really didn’t even need to be particularly patient – the crowds just seem to part and disappear into thin air around me.  

One of the things that I found really difficult about this wedding was that the architecture was just soooooo different to what I am used to seeing, within Australia in particular.  I had to keep reminding myself to focus on the people and the story and to not lose them amidst the grandeur around me.

And that is probably a mistake that a lot of new photographers make.  They can get so caught up in things like the operation of the camera; the pose; the setting etc that they forget to tell a story with the portrait.  Keep this in mind as you complete the tasks in this unit.


Make a summary of Alan’s 7 Tips.

At one point he makes mention of a photographer named Ansel Adams.
Do a google search for Ansel Adams  landscapes.
What are your impressions of Ansel Adam’s work?
Make a list of 5 words to describe his images.


Casey Jane Photography

Casey is a wonderful local photographer who is regarded as one of the best Fine Art Wedding Photographers in Queensland.  Casey has very kindly agreed to share some insights with us.  A link to her website can be found in the Questions section of this task.

learn media online


Go to Casey’s website: https://caseyjanephotography.com.au/

1. How would you describe Casey’s photography?
2.  In the image above – how has black and white been used to draw attention to the relationship?
3.  Being able to use a camera is just one important part of being a professional photographer.  After reading the article, what other  vital skills did you hear Casey talking about that a good photographer should have?
4.  Why do you think that portraits like this become more valuable over time?
5.  Compare the image from Venice to the image that Casey has shared with us.  They achieve two different purposes.  What do you think these purposes are?

 TASK – Black & White Vs Color  

 For each of the following in the list, create a B & W and color image.  Present them side by side in the same canvas.

* Kitchen Item
* Selfy
* Nature
* Shoelaces

Using the editing process outlined in Lesson 3 convert them to black and white.  Remember to use a curve layer to add contrast while maintaining details in the highlights and shadows. 

As a general rule of thumb, B/W images shouldn’t look grey.

Compare your images. 
Which do you like more and why? 
Which features stand out more in color?
Does the B/W version emphasize anything differently?

How to Expand Your Canvas

Macro Images and Back & White

Macro photography is sometimes called Extreme Close-up Photography.  Our phone camera’s usually work pretty well when super close to objects. Play around with taking some super close-ups of objects.  Then finish them in Black & White to create some art that would make any hipster proud! 

Images Shot with a phone camera.