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Thread: Discuss: Balancing Values - B&W and in Color

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    Mario Xavier's Avatar
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    Discuss: Balancing Values - B&W and in Color

    EDIT: As mentioned below by ChrisC, the author is referring to "tonal value".

    I'm reading up on composition. The book I'm reading now titled "Creative Illustration" is geared towards artistic mediums but I'm sure that there are some nuggets about composition therein that would carry over to photos.

    I've considered using only b&w pictures as a start until I gain some sense of composition and balance. Ironically, tonight I'm learning about "values" and there is a paragraph that stands out to me as the book leads into its color segment.

    I'd like your comments on it or my consideration if you have any:

    "If we cannot do a study in black and white and do a good thing from the standpoint of values, we certainly can not do it better in color just because it is color." - Creative Illustration

    Again I know this has to do with drawing and painting, but is this equally valuable to photography?
    Last edited by Mario Xavier; 2nd March 2011 at 01:06 AM.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Discuss: Balancing Values - B&W and in Color

    Mario

    Clearly we are just seeing the quote and are not seeing the whole chapter, which would give us a better understanding of the context. What, for example, does the author mean by 'values'?

    However, I don't see where this statement fits with those images that are almost exclusively about colour with the shape, form, structure and texture merely being supporting elements to what is, essentially, a study of colour. But I think I'm maybe missing the point in terms of the meaning being given, by the author, to 'values'.

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    PopsPhotos's Avatar
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    Re: Discuss: Balancing Values - B&W and in Color

    When speaking about "rendering" an object, in art terms, the object itself is the subject. Thus the rendering of the object should be accomplished in stark terms first, before color is considered.

    When rendering a display of colors, which is the subject in itself, the actual structure of the object containing the color (if any) is not as critical.

    How this relates to photography is, at best, rather fuzzy. However, we are constantly discussing focus and relative positioning within the frame, concerning our photographs, attempting to turn them into pictures. I think this leans a bit towards the point trying to be made above.

    I'm not sure I have made much more sense than the poster's book.

    Pops

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    Re: Discuss: Balancing Values - B&W and in Color

    As an art teacher, I understand what the author is trying to convey and the values spoken about are tonal vlaues. There isn't any part of art, per se - painting, drawing, sculture, printmaking, etc which does not have a direct relationship to photgraphy. The camera is simply another conveyance of getting an image from your eye to a plain where someone else can make a learned response.
    There is not a day goes by where I do not speak of values in range, depth, rich or flat, contrasty or dull, light or dark. And, the author is correct in the assumption that color won't make all things better just because it is color..tain't so, and never will be. My students never start anything in color first. It is imperative to truly grasp how and where tonal ranges fall and what influences those ranges..light, reflective surfaces, surfaces themselves, fore and backgrounds, the absence or near absence of light...it is a wonderful exercise in the teaching of "seeing."
    To me, color often tries to hide flaws whereas B&W is always true to a viewer's eye. It is hard to hide a tonal flaw. Of course, that is just my humble opinion.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Discuss: Balancing Values - B&W and in Color

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisC View Post
    As an art teacher ~ My students never start anything in color first. It is imperative to truly grasp how and where tonal ranges fall and what influences those ranges..light, reflective surfaces, surfaces themselves, fore and backgrounds, the absence or near absence of light...it is a wonderful exercise in the teaching of "seeing."
    To me, color often tries to hide flaws whereas B&W is always true to a viewer's eye. It is hard to hide a tonal flaw. Of course, that is just my humble opinion.
    I can see a lot of benefit in getting photography 'students' (in the broadest terms) to concentrate on monochrome, shooting monochrome gets you used to 'seeing' in B&W, as Donald has found in the last year or two. Assesssing the reflectance of objects and ignoring the colour.

    In fact it would be a good bit of advice to hand out here at CiC too when people ask 'where to start', perhaps we should have some lessons (with homework) in monochrome shooting, like Colin's Portraiture school - introduce one thing at a time, etc. and build on past results with feedback from mentors/members.

    My own skills, such as they are, started with education soooo long ago that I have literally forgotten more than most people know (that isn't a boast)

    I did a lot of art up until about age 13, then technical drawing (better for job prospects, see), a bit of photography, a bit of stage lighting, some night classes in photography, belonging to a camera club, B&W processing, colour transparency processing, mono and colour printing, TV lighting course, several years exposing and colour matching TV pictures between cameras, then far, far more recently, CiC.

    That makes it difficult to know why I do the things I do, much comes almost naturally, but I must have been taught it somewhere along the line, but I digress

    I am, through the words of Chris, Pops, Peter, Colin and Donald, beginning to appreciate how lucky I have been and the wisdom of their ways.

    Yours humbly (no BS),
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 2nd March 2011 at 02:49 PM.

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    Re: Discuss: Balancing Values - B&W and in Color

    "I am, through the words of Chris, Pops, Peter and Donald, beginning to appreciate how lucky I have been and the wisdom of their ways."

    It is for this reason I still teach. It's nice to know that at some time in a student's life, there is appreciation for the teachers who influenced the later years. I guess that is the legacy we leave and in my case, I always ask anyone I've ever had a teaching/learning experience with to pass it along. Knowledge should always be shared, never harbored as was the case with Edward Land, who was so afraid someone might copy his invention, he took it to the grave with him...and now we have no more Polaroid.
    Thank you ever so much for learning as your work is now an inspiration to so many others, and most of all, thank you for sharing as that's what makes my life have such a special meaning. I will probably always be a better teacher than a photographer but because of my own tenaciousness in the process of learning, I'll never quit trying to outdo myself.

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