7.1. When to Convert to Black and White

Not all color images warrant conversion to black and white. A converted color image can be plain boring if there is neither good composition nor compelling content. It can also suffer if it is not converted properly. Let's see what works in black and white, what doesn't, and why.

Some images work equally well in color or black and white. Take the wonderful shot by Derrick Story, shown here in both color and in black and white. Figure 7-1 (I've included larger before and after versions on the next pages.) As a color image, Derrick's shot is quite successful. I love the red dress complemented by the red flower. When converted properly to black and white using Lightroom's black and white controls, the photo is still quite good. In some ways, in my opinion, it's even better. Without the distraction of color, the composition and drama are emphasized.

Figure 7-1. Figure 7-1

Doesn't Work

And then there are shots like the one shown here by John Isaac, that are substantially better in color. Figure 7-2 Once converted to black and white, this shot becomes relatively mundane. The color is what holds the image together. There is little in the way of dramatic lighting or striking composition, which is apparent when the color is removed.

Figure 7-2. Figure 7-2

Works, but with Work

A bad conversion from color to black and white can also result in a ...

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