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Black & White at Wunderground

By: birdyboo , 7:20 PM GMT on September 15, 2005

This was a comment I left at Leia’s WunderBlog Natural vs manipulated. I wanted to repeat it here as a separate entry with some examples.

The bottom line is that black & white used to be considered a ‘manipulation’ at this site making those photographs ineligible for AC but that is not the case now.

Eligibility for AC’s is nice but really secondary. Digital photography offers opportunities for creative control to ordinary photographers that used to be reserved for serious amateurs or pros. This is a wonderful place to experiment with new techniques and look at different ways to present our photographs to their best advantage.

If you haven’t tried black & white and need a convincer take a look at this at Photoandy’s WunderBlog. Sometimes black & white is the best choice for a particular photograph even if your usual preference is color.

This is the pertinent section of the Wunderground Faq on Manipulated Images:

Black & White
Many photographers use "Black and White" or "Sepia" filters for artistic reasons. Black and White and Sepia photography should not be considered manipulated since these forms of photography are very well established.

This modification came about after an exchange in Ikonjon's Blog with Admin on this topic in late July.

The blog entry (Ikonjon’s Blog, Is black & white considered manipulated? NO! BRING THEM ON!!!, July 29, 2005 Updated: 10:29 PM EDT) is not online now but I have a saved version.

There is a little ambiguity in the comments but the faq is clear that black & white is not considered manipulation unless of course the picture has been further modified.

Based on this exchange I believe b/w photographs that meet the other criteria do not need to be marked manipulated. That means b/w photographs can be considered for Approver’s Choice.

Battered rock (photoandy)
Battered rock
Tree Leaves (wanderingtexgrrl)
Close in view of the leaves of the Bois D'Arc tree. We all know they are green, thought I would show them in black and white.
Tree Leaves
Bandwagon in B&W (oneshotww)
mspixi suggested I try this shot in B&W, I must say I do like it. Thanks.
Bandwagon in B&W
Heavy Snow (Lemurian)
Heavy snow at about 8500-8600 ft elevation has caused the tree trunks to bow.
Heavy Snow
evening storm (Marlis)
it looked like a storm, it felt like a thunderstorm- but it blew over........ some one else did get the rain we need so badly
evening storm
Sun at Spring's Edge (CountryDreaming)
Taken with the color settings, it came out as a black and white!
Sun at Spring's Edge
Tate depot series. (imaris)
Caption updated August 23,2005: An old freight train on spot at the Tate railroad station. Tate is a small town in Pickens County, in north Georgia, USA. One of the main industries in Tate is marble quarrying. (Thanks to Lampy for emailing the correct railroad term for "parked.")
Tate depot series.
Kawartha Lakes (rebel13)
White-Dummer Lake in the Kawarthas in Ontario. Dummer as in Dummer County and the name of the lake from 1966-2004. White as in the name before 1966 and after 2004.
Kawartha Lakes

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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12. imaris
9:30 AM GMT on September 19, 2005
Wow! This marvelous, masterly selection of photos has inspired me to take a second look at a bunch of my fairly recent photos that I had shot with wunderground in mind, but never uploaded for various reasons, including "weak color." So, yesterday I had some fun converting two or three of these color photos to black and white and I am astounded at the power these photos now have as monochromatic images (except for those tiny- petaled- bright- yellow- flowers that went oh so very dark in b&w). Long, long ago, I too used to process my own film and prints in b&w; and then I hopped on the color photography bandwagon. I have had a bunch of sepia photos in my gallery but they were shot originally as color and then converted in a graphics program. Black and white and sepia, I feel, are especially appropriate for the subjects that have an aura of timelessness. But now that I have been inspired to reflect a bit, I think I'm going to try to reserve my color shots for subjects that have vibrant colors and try to take the rest of the shots in b&w mode. Inspiring subject! Great discussion! Special thanks especially to both birdyboo and ikonjon for proclaiming the gospel of black and white and helping to lead me back to my photographic roots.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
11. Marlis
7:49 PM GMT on September 18, 2005
thanks Alice for including probably my only B/W. I do take B/W pics every once in a while - somehow it seems easier to take color pics. The first 10 or 15 years I think I took B/W pics only... am I showing my age here? My father taught me a lot about photography, including developing my own B/W pics.....
After giving it some thoughts, I think I will try B/W again just for fun. When I lived in the Prairies, winter photography lent itself more to B/W, here in Spain there is so much color all around I am going to have to really try harder. But yes, I think I like the idea. Thanks Alice!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
9. Sadie791
4:57 PM GMT on September 17, 2005
I too, love black and white. Some photos just have to be B&W for mood's sake. Plus it takes a bit more forethought and skill to do a good black and white.

I was out in a graveyard today...talk about a place that has to be presented in B&W! Great subject Birdy Boo!

At one of the other sites I'm active in the Black and White forum is always the most popular. THE MOST popular!
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8. SunsetFL
1:16 AM GMT on September 17, 2005
Carole's idea is excellent and sounds like a great way to start to see things differently (if my camera ever get out of the shop)
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7. oneshotww
10:38 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
The photo of the horses and the wave are two things that without "seeing" beforehand I wouldn't have thought would make it in B&W.

And I gotta say that Leia's Easy Rider is one of the finest examples of constrast that I've seen. And... imaris' old train inspires me to go out and look for old stuff to shoot just to see it in B&W or Sepia for that matter.

P.S. thx to mspixi for suggesting I try my photo in B&W. I really like it!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
6. Lemurian
10:03 PM GMT on September 16, 2005
in the graphic arts, I learned that each color and shades thereof converts to a complex gray scale, i.e., red always
photographs as black etc.

Lynnmar, you just gave me a terrific idea for "seeing" that complex gray scale before I shoot (since I, like you, am not able to imagine it in my mind's eye). I have this nifty little tool I once bought at a quilt shop/fabric store. It's called Color Evaluator II, made by Cottage Tools. It consists of two clear pieces of plastic (approx 1" by 6" ea) attached to a chain. One is red and one is green. I use them to evaluate the value of various colors of fabric when I am putting together fabric art & quilts. I've found the red clear plastic piece to be particularly valuable. I plan to purchase another of these tools so I can hook the chain of one to my camera strap. Then I'll always have it with me to evaluate those shades of gray for a potential b&w shot! Thx Lynnmar!

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5. lynnmar
6:38 AM GMT on September 16, 2005
Thanks Alice for including my photo :)
I agree with you Speakeasy 100%....yes some subjects seem
to lend themselves beautifully to B&W while others look too
busy. I have no experience with B&W whatsoever, soooooo
please bear with me, lol!!!!!
Lemurian I agree that shooting color is far easier. Being
in the graphic arts, I learned that each color and shades thereof converts to a complex gray scale, i.e., red always
photographs as black etc. When looking at color, I never
could convert to B&W in my mind's eye. Shoot and hope??? lol
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
4. Lemurian
1:19 AM GMT on September 16, 2005
Thank you, Alice, for including one of my very few b&w pix in your blog. I enjoy viewing a beautifully composed & exposed b&w photo just as I do one in color & will take ikonjon's words about b&w photography ("The principles that make a good black and white photograph are pretty much the same as make a good color picture.") as fact because I respect his knowledge and experience, as evidenced by his impressive gallery.

However, b&w photography feels like a different breed than color to me. Perhaps this is due to my inexperience with b&w, but I also consider myself somewhat inexperienced with the color medium. I think it takes a very well trained eye to do b&w justice. While it also takes talent to shoot a beautiful color photo, bottom line is that I think color is easier. Just my opinion :)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
3. ikonjon
12:45 AM GMT on September 16, 2005
Actually, the FAQ's for black and white used to say pretty much what they say now. There was a short time where they were in the process of changing where they were unclear due to a miswording, and that was when I sought and received the clarification we have today. Be that as it may...

My perspective on black and white is from someone that has used it from my earliest film days of developing and printing my own black and white film. My favorites photographs have always been black and white, and Ansel Adams is the best example of excellence in photography I know of. I choose to do all of my wunderground work exclusively in black and white. Although sometimes I shoot color in my camera to have the choice to convert it later, I more often than not just shoot in black and white at the camera. So that's where I come from. :-)

I am not going to comment anything more of the subject of black and white, and approver's choices. It's nice that so many fine photographer's do such fine work before, during, and after clicking the shutter. 'nuff said.

The principles that make a good black and white photograph are pretty much the same as make a good color picture. Composition, light, texture, and balance are all key ingredients.

Black and white is just something that I enjoy. I've come to understand there are some that don't feel the same way, and have chosen to express that in their own way. I will continue to do what I enjoy, and continue to enjoy the other black and white pictures I see. It would be nice if there was a checkbox for black and white, it would be easier to search them out.
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2. speakeasy
11:56 PM GMT on September 15, 2005
Thanks for including one of my photos Birdyboo! I enjoy experimenting with black and white. Some photos seem to lend themselves better to black and white and the challenge is to work with the light well enough to produce an excellent shot.
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1. Veracity
11:22 PM GMT on September 15, 2005
Good thinking Birdyboo - it has spurred me to try it a lot more often. Maybe I'll try sepia too.
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