Black & White Challenge. Or Not.

Prince of Wales Second Line
Prince of Wales Second Line

As some of you already know, a friend of mine, Gale Sutton, asked me to participate in a black and white challenge on Facebook. I had a lot of fun, curating the “right” pictures for the weeks worth of pictures to fulfill the challenge. I also had a lot of fun converting them in post production. It’s not as easy as you might think. Some pictures just don’t translate well. I saw them in color. To my eye, they are color pictures. Others translate very well. Then, there is selecting the right approach to converting them. Since I don’t normally see in black and white this took some fiddling about. Oddly, I reworked them twice. The first pass was done at about 2am because I couldn’t sleep. I thought about it, and decided to confer them again because the first pass couldn’t possibly be any good because I was half asleep when I worked on them Guess which ones worked best? Yep. The ones I made from pure instinct while I was trying to fall asleep. Let that be a lesson to you. Or me.

But, here’s the question. Or, rather, here’s the philosophy. The question is coming. I work in color because I see the world that way. Bright color makes me smile. I think the world is a colorful place. I think it should be photographed that way. That’s one view. My view. Other photographers say that black and white photography gets to the heart of the picture. Color doesn’t distract from the subject. It’s pure.

Then there’s this. In a digital world where everybody is a photographer, or at least takes pictures, there are so many pictures being uploaded on a daily basis that you can’t find the signal for all the noise. Can’t separate the wheat from the chaff. Can’t even come close to finding the “good stuff.” Get this. Almost all of it is posted in color. In that way, well done black and white work stands out. That’s what I think anyway.


What do you think? I still prefer the color picture over the black and white one. But, I’m probably missing something.

The content. It’s one of those pictures I work hardest to photograph. Preparations for a second line parade. The Prince of Wales Second Line. I don’t know what the deal is with the mask. Today’s B&W challenge picture is also of a man wearing a mask. But, he’s a flambeaux who doesn’t want to smell all the fuel used to light the torches. This guy is going to walk outside during the heat of a New Orleans day.

Prince of Wales Second Line
Prince of Wales Second Line


  1. I see in color too, though once upon a time I saw in b+w, many years ago. I think some photos make a larger impact in b+w but only when color distracts us and turns our attention away from a not-so-obvious stark view we might want to draw attention to. Not so obvious in color, that is.


  2. I started my professional life in newspapers. In those days color was very rare, usually reserved for special projects. By the end of my days in newspapers, many newspapers were fully color capable and I too made the shift. From there, that’s about all I shot. I found it truly difficult to edit my color work in order to convert pictures for the B&W challenge that Gale Sutton invited me to do on Facebook. I like challenges so it sort of motivated me to explore a little more in black and white. Oddly, I received a lot of very favorable comments about the five pictures I converted. Maybe a little more gravitas. Or not. 🙂


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