CAN Exercise 1.2 Street: Colour v Monochrome


Find a street that particularly interests you. Shoot 30 colour images and 30 black and white images in a street photography style.

In your learning log, comment on the differences between the two formats. What difference does colour make? Which set do you prefer and why?


Colour is a fundamental component of a photograph providing interest and mood.  Classifying colours simply as warm and cool you could say that red and orange signify liveliness, excitement and danger.  On the other hand cool colours such as blue and green could signify calmness, gloom and sadness.  However colour can distract the viewer from the subject of the picture.

Conversely, a black and white image has the complicating colour component removed thereby allowing the remaining components (point, line, space, shape and texture) to capture the viewer’s attention.  The distraction of colour has been removed.

We don’t see the world in black and white so shooting in this format can add creativity.

Whether I prefer an individual image in colour or black and white depends on the subject/intention of the shot.  In the images above the speeding coloured taxis (row 3 and 4) the point of the image is colour.  So naturally the black and white conversion is less appealing to me.  However I prefer the black and white version of the man walking towards the camera (row 5) because the blue rucksack on the right (and the other colours generally) take my attention from the main subject of the man.

These street shots were not taken to highlight colour but to show the busy city streets.  So for me the black and white set is preferable because the distracting, complicating colours have been removed.  I prefer the simplicity, mood and expressive range that black and white photography offers.

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