A quick opinion poll: monochrome or black and white

This is a quick poll to get a feel for where readers fall when it comes to Monochrome versus Black and White. I’ve mentioned before that I contribute to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness.

I typically consider monochrome as meaning B&W . . . but — obviously — the literal meaning doesn’t limit one to think only in shades of gray. 

This photo is my submission for next week Monochrome Madness 4-32 (fourth year, 32nd week). 

Just to change the pace, I’m doing a few weeks of Still Life (my interpretation of it). However, in the course of preparing a few files for the run, I’ve been confronted by a dilemma. Well, dilemma is a bit strong. 

Other than these three shots . . . 

All my other submissions have been B&W (various shades of gray). The reason for sticking to B&W is that I don’t think those look as good in Sepia or Sepa-wanna-be. 

For instance, here’s the first shot in B&W:

Cropped a little different but — in my opinion — a stronger shot for it being B&W. 

So, easy-peasy, stick with B&W, right?

. . . but, can you tell me which of these looks better?

Same car and same compass with slightly different arrangement and processing . . . 

And here’s what makes the whole thing even more difficult . . . two versions of the same photo with minuscule differences in processing (probably won’t even show up in WordPress).

I won’t even ask which of these two is preferred since unless quickly switching between one and the other no one will pick up on the fact that one is sharper and has more contrast. 

But, I could ask if you would pick one of these two or any of the previous four. Well, dang it, I think I will!

I’ll stop here, but perhaps I should do another post asking if I should consider turning some of the Dream Files into B&W. Something along these lines, maybe. Of course, are they still photos or are these images now drifting into art?

I have no idea if other contributors would all sling poo at me if I dared introduce the above amid fine art B&W. 

Like I said, that’s ponderings for another time. 

Here’s the gallery of the photos in a slightly different order than presented above. 

 That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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31 Responses to A quick opinion poll: monochrome or black and white

  1. seekraz says:

    Cat looks like it just ran through a field of dandelions in seed….

    And regarding the sepia versus black and white…for me…sepia appeals more when the desire is to render the subject/landscape as antique or somehow of another era…and black and white is more of a case by case thing…when it “feels” right.

    At any rate…nice photos above…and I prefer the bird of prey in its natural colors….


    • disperser says:

      In part, that’s why I asked; I think that car model (it is a model; I don’t own a giant compass) lends itself to the sepia.

      Good observation about the cat. It was a feral cat, so that might actually be true. As for the hawk, at one time I would have unequivocally agreed, but I’ve seen some B&W renderings that also suited the subject. I’d probably offer both precisely because it’s often difficult to choose.


  2. oneowner says:

    I have a soft spot in my head for sepia tone, probably because I can still remember the sulfur smell from the Kodak solutions I had to mix. I was willing to put up with one of the worse processing steps to get a great result in the end. Not that any of these photos smell like sulfur. But for these shots, I’ll take the sepia, please.


    • disperser says:

      See, that’s why I blog . . . I learn new things. I’d never contemplated the process to produce sepia in film development. I had a vague notion that it was a step in the process of getting to B&W and not so much a specific process involving stuff from hell. Probably, I got that notion from seeing old photos and assuming they couldn’t quite get proper B&W.

      I do think the cars look better in sepia but I also think the frame (border) and the vignetting help give them that “vintage” look of photos from back when everyone used sulfur.

      Funny thing . . . just writing the word gave me an olfactory hint of the smell. What? No, of course I didn’t have eggs for breakfast.


      • oneowner says:

        Some photo printing papers were “warm-toned” papers that gave a slight sepia tone to a photo. They were usually a matte finish and a heavier weight that allowed for hand-coloring easily as compared to a glossy print. I liked those papers. They took to the sepia toning process more easily than a standard black and white paper. I mostly used a 2wo solution procedure from Kodak but there were others available from other manufacturers. I doubt if there is much available now but I suppose anyone with even a modest knowledge of darkroom photography (or chemistry) could duplicate the solutions if necessary. But traditional silver halide paper is expensive (lots of silver and no demand) and digital printing is much cheaper and better in many ways. Probably better for the environment, too.


  3. WandaFaye says:

    The antique car definitely looks better in sepia.
    As for the difference between the two black and white versions with minuscule differences.. I prefer the second one with the added contrast. The contrast brings out more detail. Did you try adding sepia to the second one?

    I also like the peppers, and I won’t sling poo!


    • disperser says:

      No, I didn’t render the second B&W in sepia. I mean, I did, but not that version and processing of it. In the sepia versions, I specifically went for a vintage look. The sharper B&W was intended as B&W. Sepia, to me, implies a softer look but I suppose I could try it next time I process something.

      Like I said above, unless I’m shooting for specific moods or looks, none of the tinted processes look as good to me as color or B&W. Selenium is probably the closest to something I might regularly consider but it comes across as just a cooler (as in temperature) version of neutral B&W.

      Poo slinging is all the rage these days, both on the Internet and in the political and entertainment arenas. Personally, I don’t see the attraction.

      Monkeys at zoo seem to enjoy it as well. Then again, were I captive in some zoo, I might resort to flinging the occasional offering at my captors.


  4. AnnMarie says:

    For me, sepia lends itself perfectly for antiques and certain subjects (i.e. the “artsy” hawk processed look), whereas B&W provides more powerful contrast and details that pop (not poop) more . . . like them peppers!


    • disperser says:

      That particular version of the peppers is one that was processed through Deep Dream. Here’s the original deep dream:

      Here’s the color version (from when I used to do calendars):

      I also had a “dramatic” version of the peppers for another Monochrome Madness:


  5. I love sepia, but I think it looks best when you want a photo to look antique-y.
    B&W is super cool when wanting details and textures to smack ya’ in the face.
    For example: the hawk in flight in B&W is stunning! The details are crazy good!

    Your photos are always first-rate, Emilio. And I always enjoy when you art-them-up or put special effects on them, etc. That makes them even fun-ner.

    I am not a poo flinger. I am a poo flusher. I’m glad you spelled poo “poo” and not “pooh”…I’d hate to think about Winnie the Pooh being flung.

    HUGS and Happy Friday!!! :-D
    PS…Thanks for letting us vote! Always fun!


  6. renxkyoko says:

    Given 2 choices, between sepia and B&W , for some reason, I like the B&W.. I like the sharp contrast. Also, for the owl, I like the very first photo. To be honest, I like the colored ones better. I want to look at nature’s colors, especially those marine shells.


    • disperser says:

      Thanks, ren, and you should get some rest . . . I say that because that’s a hawk in the photo.

      Most of the photos I post are in color because that’s my preference as well, but I do like exploring the B&W alternatives. Sometimes they surprise me. The one area where I’ve not been able to make them work all that well is with landscape photography. That requires a lot more manipulations and usually needs localized adjustments (I usually adjust global parameters).

      Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The bird definitely B&W. The car sepia; The capsicums definitely colour.

    Took me quite some time to come to these selections as the last two of the car appear to be the same, and it’s some clown playing tricks on his elderly, senior followers


    • disperser says:

      If the car is definitely sepia, then the last two cars are irrelevant, thus making your complaint one of obstinacy and without validity.

      But, I thank you for your input.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wasn’t being obstinate I’ve just had another look and they still look the same.
        Perhaps we weren’t supposed to take these into account,
        But in your usual way you pose your questions for those Mensa followers of which I am not one, so you will just have to put up with my being obtuse


      • disperser says:

        Ah, I see the problem . . . not a Mensa person.

        Seriously, what I meant is that if you liked the sepia ones, you needn’t have spent any time with the others. Still, you wear obtuse well and I’ve gotten used to the look.


  8. disperser says:

    As an addendum of sorts, I must confess the voting has me somewhat confused. The numbers just don’t tally up and there’s no definite pattern when it comes to preference between sepia and B&W.

    If I go by the overall vote, only two people out of twelve voted for sepia, but the prior votes would have me believe a closer split if not a slight preference for sepia. Go figure.

    Also, I was surprised no one remarked anything about the first photo. I thought it was . . . what’s the word . . . ah, yes, exquisite. I did distract from it with all this talk about sepia and stuff, but still.


    • AnnMarie says:

      I never cared for beauty pageants, didn’t like the fact of having to choose the “best” one when many, if not all, where equally “best”. Neither do I care for competitions that pin great athletes against one another (but I do enjoy seeing what humans are capable of achieving). Having stated that, I’m compelled to place the photos in this blog in that same category . . . difficult to choose the “best” when they clearly all ARE . . . in their own way.


    • disperser says:

      There are many times in life when we must choose. Pasta with butter or pasta with meat sauce, crostoli or castagnoli, regular or deep dish pizza, laces or velcro, and so on.

      It’s not practical to just say “I can’t choose.” I can’t do multiple versions of each future photo and submit them all as equal. Just think, we’d go from 80 photos per blog post to 480 photos per blog post.

      True, this is not as important and is — in fact — a made-up quandary presented primarily as entertainment but also out of genuine curiosity. Still, I think it deserves consideration as to the gradation of attractiveness.

      Beauty contests are seldom won just by beauty but also take into consideration smarts and talent (like the ability to make noises by placing one hand under your arm as you flap said arm). And athletes do want to have a measure of their abilities for otherwise how would they aspire to improve? There’s always someone who can spit watermelon seeds farther and if we don’t recognize that and set it as a goal, how would we ever improve our range and not to mention our accuracy?

      No, I think the whole of human history is based on the fact that we judge and aim to improve who we are and what we do. Sepia or B&W may seem like a fickle thing to ask, but in fact, the whole of future human civilization rests on its shoulders.


  9. Happy Monday!
    HUGS, too! :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. gorgeous images Emilio, I can’t vote because to me it really depends. Black and white is very dramatic but sometimes the softness of Sepia adds to a mood. oh dear! Great work!


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