B&W Easier to Shoot Than Color?
Posted 20 January 2011 - 05:50 AM
I realize there are no absolutes in the world, so of course it depends. A beautiful sunset is probably very agreeable to being shot in color. But in general, do you find B&W easier?
I have to say that I think it IS easier, b/c it removes one very important but hard to get right component, namely color. It's hard to create a good color palette. This is why I believe a fair amount of new shooters' material is shot in color but converted to B&W. Simply to emphasize the composition, which probably worked nicely, but also remove the color palette, which is difficult to get w/o significant production design, planning and probably $.
Anyway, enough of me. I want to hear YOUR thoughts on this!
Posted 20 January 2011 - 08:04 AM
One saving with B & W is that you don't need to worry about colour temperature, so you can use tungsten lights instead of HMIs. Although, on one commercial I shot, which was planned to be in B&W, the agency liked the off colour temperature effect so much that the director had to fight to keep the orginal B & W concept in place.
The down side to B & W is that it's hard to sell a B & W film.
Posted 20 January 2011 - 08:31 AM
Posted 20 January 2011 - 11:50 AM
On the other hand, it is sort of instant stylization of reality.
Nestor Almendros said in his book that it's impossible to be tasteless in b&w, it's like a woman slipping on a black evening dress.
Of course, today you also have the technical challenge of dealing with lower ASA levels with b&w stocks.
Posted 20 January 2011 - 01:25 PM
They filmed it in Las Vegas, so the movie was packed with bright, changing colors. I can't really think of the B&W equivalent, although extreme contrast in B&W could be used for a gimmick of sorts. I feel the bright fluorescent greens and oranges are unmatched when shooting B&W. You can get away with very boring compositions in color if the frame is packed with an "'80s" color pallette.
Posted 20 January 2011 - 01:45 PM
While you don't have to think about subtle color differences, like color temperature, you do get the option of using extreme color filters to produce substantially different results. For instance, get some extreme red, green, and blue filters, and shoot stills of the same scene with them. Red makes the sky dark, blue makes it light, and so forth. This gives you a huge new tool to work with, and to learn.
The other thing you have to learn by testing is what things of different colors will come out the same gray. Then you have to come up with ways of distinguishing them from each other. So, you use a lot of rim light. Bottom line, it's a big learning curve.
Posted 20 January 2011 - 02:55 PM
It was originally shot in color on a Canon HV-20 w/ a 35mm adapter. The filmmaker said that he did not intend to finish it in black and white, but the colors of the chosen locations just made no coherent sense. So he converted to B&W and felt it worked much better. This seems to make sense; I'd also like to add that I found the lead actor, Yoyao Hsueh, very effective.
BTW, I saw in a documentary on Haskell Wexler that he's color blind. Don't know if that adds to or detracts from one position or the other, LOL!
And of course it does make sense that each format has it's own strengths and challenges.
Posted 30 January 2011 - 05:52 AM
Next observation, there are just some things that are very hard to convey in B&W, e.g. a happy sunny day, esp. if much of the film is dark/moody. It's just very difficult to catch that change to this is now a bright, gleaming, frivolous, sunny day.
On the other hand, the color shots all worked very well. They had a yellow-orange tint to them, which restricted their pallet and allowed for a few selected colors to really pop, which helped with the imagery.
So of course the answer to this poll is "It depends."
Posted 30 January 2011 - 06:58 AM
Posted 30 January 2011 - 07:12 AM
It’s only complicated if you want to imitate nature and colours.
Posted 30 January 2011 - 02:24 PM
They could stock films up to 1,000 speed (TMax P3200's real sensititivity) but don't due to lack of demand. There are probably still five or six different manufacturers of B&W film out there that could be used in a movie camera compared to all of two in color. Hypothetically you could also get Agfa-Gaveart or Ferrania, Lucky, or DNP in Japan to make color films that could be used in movie cameras, but you'd probably have to throw more than $200,000 at them.
I think the total lack of variety in B&W stocks, at least in the United States, is what is killing it. That they're far grainier for a given speed than color products, and now are incompatible with digital ice all aren't working in B&W's favor, as well.
Edited by K Borowski, 30 January 2011 - 02:25 PM.
Posted 01 February 2011 - 03:10 PM
Super contrasty, grainy, wild variations in exposure... these are considered mistakes in color photography, but 'artsy' in B&W photography.
It's almost as if the only unforgivable mistake you can make in B&W, is being out of focus. And even that isn't always the case!
(I'm not ignoring the fact that you need to be precise & knowledgable to get what YOU are looking for in an image, but that actual mistakes can still produce B&W photos that the general population will still like).
Posted 01 February 2011 - 05:01 PM
I have seen people change to B&W in post in order to hide poor color or exposure, or to just give it a stronger look. In some cases I thought it worked, and others it still just looks like poorly shot footage!
Posted 03 February 2011 - 02:30 PM