Street photography and making the switch to color

Razeus

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Jul 11, 2008
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I've been working on a color preset to do my street photography as I'm thinking of completely switching over to color exclusively. I guess I've been looking at too many photos from the masters that are all in black and white so I followed suit. But I've been working on some color that looks a bit warm and muddy which I'm liking. Tell me what you think:


Juice Box Sisters by D. Harris, on Flickr

Juice Box Sisters by D. Harris, on Flickr


Just Around the Corner by D. Harris, on Flickr

Just Around the Corner by D. Harris, on Flickr


Cross Bar by D. Harris, on Flickr

Cross Bar by D. Harris, on Flickr
 

fcortese

macrumors demi-god
Apr 3, 2010
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Big Sky country
I don't know Razeus, I kinda like the B&W. To me B&W and street photography kind of go hand in hand. But then again, I tend to be sort of a traditionalist in most things. Old school. But you've got to follow your heart.
 
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AlexH

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Mar 7, 2006
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Well, if I go with my gut, I'd have to say I like all three of them in b&w better. I've recently been shooting more street, and experimenting with color/b&w, but I keep going back to b&w, it just feels natural on the street. I have a few color presets I created for my street work, and I use color. It's not a rule that I must shoot only b&w on the street, but it's the classic street look I prefer.

PS - you can see my b&w/color street photography experiments here. Overall, I prefer my b&w versions...

PS Again... - I think we should consider starting a street photography thread if there's enough interest. It's highly addictive!
 
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robbieduncan

Moderator emeritus
Jul 24, 2002
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I think for colour to work in this context you need something vibrant or distinctive to draw you in. For me the yellows in the top image work quite well in colour. The others there is nothing there that makes the colour image better than b&w.
 
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Doylem

macrumors 68040
Dec 30, 2006
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Wherever I hang my hat...
Colour adds another layer of complication to street photography, one more thing to consider when taking a shot. But that can be a challenge rather than a problem. One of my all-time favourite photographers is Harry Gruyaert, who uses colour wonderfully well, especially in his portfolio of Moroccan images.

Harry Gruyaert's Moroccan pix

OK, Morocco offers shapes and spaces and people and colours that you don't find in USA or UK. But another photographer, Martin Parr (English), gravitated from b/w to a rather punchy, aggressive kind of colour photography.

Martin Parr's street photography
 
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initialsBB

macrumors 6502a
Oct 18, 2010
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2
I prefer all three in color actually. I don't have a preference for either style, I like both, but in the case of these specific 3 photos I find that with the colors that are present in the frame are nice, it works. It's especially true for 1 and 3 as there is a distinctive duo (juice box-street markings, jersey-bicycle). 2 has a nice warm sunset tone, but is just as good in b&w.

Maybe b&w works better when the composition is weighted towards faces and portraits (like some of AlexH's flickr link), but none of these 3 are actually facing the subjects; they're not quite the same technique ?

Martin Parr has really nailed his color processing to magnify/serve his subject matter.
 
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Razeus

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Jul 11, 2008
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Colour adds another layer of complication to street photography, one more thing to consider when taking a shot. But that can be a challenge rather than a problem. One of my all-time favourite photographers is Harry Gruyaert, who uses colour wonderfully well, especially in his portfolio of Moroccan images.

Harry Gruyaert's Moroccan pix

OK, Morocco offers shapes and spaces and people and colours that you don't find in USA or UK. But another photographer, Martin Parr (English), gravitated from b/w to a rather punchy, aggressive kind of colour photography.

Martin Parr's street photography
I'm a huge fan of both of them as well as Steve McCurry and Joel Meyerwitz (sp?) which is why I wanted to see what my images would look like with a color profile tweaked to give it a different look from what would come from the camera. My preset works for the most part with a slight tweak to the white balance depending on the light. After a few images, I really like them, especially the asian girls in the first photo. I just love the way the color looks.
 
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Artful Dodger

macrumors 68020
Well I will say this and hopefully it helps ;)

About a year ago I was looking into making my illustrations better or a style of their own. I sent off some with a mix of how I've developed over time and what I felt were the ones that had my own mark in/on the world per se.

A mentor got back to me that same day and said "Here you are trying to reinvent yourself and your work yet it was there all along, you have a style that others haven't tried yet or did and tossed it away out of fear for what their peers might think and say, you have not and it simply works. You like it, it flows natural for you as some would kill for that and in the end you didn't think twice when creating it which was key, stay with that and let that evolve without force". I look at my art differently now and that small statement has helped a tremendous amount.

So, I like looking at street photography in color because no matter if it's B&W or color I understand the subject as I see it. Since I'm not color blind, I feel the same impact is there no matter what because if the composition is there and the subject matter is there as well it still speaks to the viewer.

I wouldn't worry what everyone else has done in the past, present or future. What works for you in the end is what matters even if it means creating your own profiles be it color or B&W. I don't believe, now or in the past when people say it looses something by not being B&W, well it wasn't there to start with and I know many will get all bent about that statement but then they are only allowing themselves to view it in a one dimensional avenue.

Your color work is really nice, guess it is just a matter of fine tuning it for your street shots and adding what you felt at the moment of the click through the colors in the end result.

Good luck and don't shy away from doing what you want to achieve in the end :D
 
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snberk103

macrumors 603
Oct 22, 2007
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An Island in the Salish Sea
Your colour profile is fine, I think. I think you should work with it for a couple of months under different conditions, and then see if you still like it. It's the content of the images that will make them compelling. Make sure that people will be attracted to the content, then make sure the colour enhances that attraction. People won't find your images compelling just because of the "look".

However, if you want to see another type of "look" check out Fred Herzog, of Vancouver. He shot for decades using Kodachrome and his stuff has only recently been able to reach a wider audience when economical digitizing and printing became available. Link. His "look" is a very fine grain slide film that really punched up the warm colours, shot in city that is usually grey and overcast. His "look" is also consistent through his body of work. I believe that is a critical piece in developing a "look"... it needs to stay relatively constant. People should look at your images, and if they already know your work, be able to recognize a new piece without looking at the label.

Good Luck...

If I had an quibbles with your street photography, it would be to watch your backgrounds a bit more carefully. "Juice Box Sisters" has a man growing out of the big sister's forehead, and the "Cross Bar" lady has feet growing out of her shoulder. The basic set up is nice for both of them, it's just the timing/angle is just that little bit off. "Just Around the Corner" is nice in either BW or colour.
 
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Razeus

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Jul 11, 2008
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This is good stuff fellas. Great insight and input. Yes, I need to work on my composition greatly. I'm just aiming for a consistent body of work instead of being all over the place.
 
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