How do I know a photograph will look better in black and white?

Modern Family Room by Delray Beach Artists and Artisans Images by Jon Evan

When I took this image in January of 2011 I did not know it would have a stronger impact as a black and white photograph. I learned over the course of two years how to determine this. The quickest way is to close one eye, squint and then take a look at a scene. This method may be somewhat inaccurate, but it will give the artist an idea of what a scene would look like in black and white. For me, the process is a little different!

The first way I determine whether a photograph warrants a change to black and white is observing the tones or shades in the image. Are they all green? Was it a cold morning when I shot or a hot or warm afternoon. A cool morning would produce blue tones or color casts, while a warm afternoon might produce more yellows.

The image above sat on my computer for over two years before I knew what to do. I noticed that the image was mostly green. That was my first clue. Then there was alot of contrast between the flower and the leaves.

The second determining factor I use is observation of the textures in the image. A black and white image emphasizes textures. When I looked at the image above, I noticed all the contours in the leaves and determined that those items were more important that the color of the leaves.

Once I decided that black and white would work best for this image, I proceeded to increase the blacks and whites using photoshop to emphasize the roughness and textures in the leaves.

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