I've added quite a bit of new material to the "It Must Be Color Part I" post, so you might want to catch up with that if you haven't already. Part II will be along on Monday.
I thought I should mention where I come down in the debate over Jan Kwarnmark's "Emma." Let me acknowledge that my opinion isn't necessarily more valid than anyone else's just because I have the "bully pulpit"*.
David Dyer-Bennet writes:
Even though they're 'the same photo,' and I find them both quite good, the two versions of Jan's portrait of Emma [color and B&W] aren't...the same photo.
In B&W, while the girl is still beautiful, the picture as a whole doesn't make sense any longer—the comb is a major thematic element but for no apparent reason. In color, you see the reason.
I agree with this. (Jan K. doesn't, just for the record.)
D. Hufford says:
In judging whether another person's photo is better suited for black and white or color, I tend to allow that if the photographer understands these two types of photography and he or she decided it was better suited for color, it is.
It is that person's photo and that person's interpretation. It is not my business to second guess.
...And of course D. Hufford is right as rain as well. Except that anyone is allowed to second-guess, of course, because we're humans and humans tend to do that a lot. Especially artists do that a lot, because we're used to having control over our own work and applying our aesthetic judgements to that, so it's tempting to apply it to the work of others as well, especially when we think others have made a misstep. But his comment emphasizes that there's no right and wrong in matters of interpretation—there's only what the creator of the work wanted, and then there's your own estimation of whether his or her choice works (succeeds) or not.
Anyway, I guess this is obvious since I chose "Emma" for a feature called "it must be color," but I think, well, it must be color. Actually, Jan's photo of Emma, which he sent me for a different reason, was what inspired this particular "Baker's Dozen" in the first place. I thought, wow, if ever there was a picture that had to be in color, that is it.
And (back to "Emma"), nobody even remarked upon the lovely little tidbit of orange (and yellow and green) in the lower right-hand corner! I particularly like that.
UPDATE: ...And Ben said:
I’d argue that it being a good picture in B&W is part of what makes it work in color. Because you have her expression, along with the light, the shadow, the composition, the tonality...this is the foundation of the image.
I agree with that, too. In fact I think that often (not "always") a good clue as to whether a color picture is good is to see if it's also a good picture in B&W. If it's not, then it probably depends (or "might depend," if you prefer) too much on color for its appeal. [See Ben's Featured Comment below.]
*"A public office or position of authority that provides its occupant with an outstanding opportunity to speak out on any issue. Early 20th century: apparently originally used by President Theodore Roosevelt explaining his personal view of the presidency." (Dictionary.com via Google)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Mark Kinsman: "While I did not contribute a comment in the original post of Emma, it is that little bit of orange in the lower right corner, complementing the blue comb, that make it a Must Be Color photo, in my opinion."
James Bullard: "The fact that the blue comb and the 'tidbit of orange" in the corner pull the viewer's eye away from the face is exactly why I feel it works better in B&W. The subject is Emma, not the comb and whatever the other bits of color are. But then, I'm old school."
Randall Teasley: "When I look at Emma in color I see Emma first and then the comb. In black and white I see the comb first and it feels distracting. I'm really enjoying these Bakers Dozen posts. I feel like I'm attending a master class in photography."
Ben: "I agree 100% with Mike on this. Sure, in B&W it’s a nice portait, but in color it’s enough more to make all the difference. I’d argue that it being a good picture in B&W is part of what makes it work in color. Because you have her expression, along with the light, the shadow, the composition, the tonality... this is the foundation of the image. Without all of this, the comb would be much less effective. But with it, that fantastic interruption of blue has something to stand on, and we have a reason to keep looking."