Without Color

Recently a post on the importance of light and color in how people "see" was posted which generated a thought.  What becomes important in an image if color is removed.  To see what happens the image below was created of an early morning cloudscape over the Peloncillo mountains.  When the colors are converted to grayscale the result is an image where differences in texture and contrast seem to dominate.  Rather than the wavelength of reflected light being a dominate component of the photograph (a phenomena external to the camera's CMOS chip) it is the internal differences within the image itself that become important to me as a viewer.  Visually exploring the color original my eye first focuses on the blue sky and not the clouds, while in the black and white image my eye is drawn to the clouds and the differences in contrast then in texture.  So perhaps underlying the differences in color are the important differences in contrast and texture which helps make a photograph interesting to a viewer.

peloncillo mountains clouds
Original multi-image panorama in color as a starting point.

grayscale clouds
Final product, an early morning cloudscape in black and white


  1. I once took a class in B&W photography at Kodak. We developed our own film. We found black and white things to photograph like cows and I took pix in a cemetery. We never changed color photos to B&W but this is very interesting and cool!

  2. Thank you Pat. Since I shoot digitally everything is in color and I have to either desaturate the image or go to grayscale to achieve a black and white image. What I find interesting is comparing where my eyes are drawn in each photograph. When viewing the color image my eyes go one place but in the black and white image my eyes concentrate on other aspects of the image.