Ganesh H Shankar
I think black and white as a medium of expression provides a few interesting creative avenues not possible in color. What I liked the most are couple of them -

1. Since every color gets mapped on to some shades of grey different colors with similar intensity becomes same shades of grey. This has an important consequence in terms of visual emphasis. This helps eliminate "color clutter" that might have existed in the original image. This helps photographer control the visual locus of the viewers' better.

2. Since everything is shades of grey changing composition of individual R,G,B channels to get better control on final conversion to grey provides some very creative possibilities. I think this again helps us in visual emphasis. One might argue this may be digital manipulation. For me it is not for two reasons. We always tend to think what was done in pre-Photoshop days are normal photography (no manipulation). Such channel manipulation are done in B&W photography using color filters and now we use channel mixes. Second reason is when we choose to portray the image as B&W it is not natural anyway !

When I was seeing this owl through my view finder in extream low light after 6pm (1/20s shutter speed) I decided to make some frames just for the glowing eye. Though I like the color version of it, I felt B&W helps me convey this even better. In this image I tried to emphasize the yellow eyes by using R&G (which makes yellow) channels far more than blue channel to control the conversion and to emphasize the eye.

If you want to see the color version it is here.

Love to know your thoughts..
Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:29 am
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Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

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Ganesh H Shankar  Joined CNP On 24 Apr 2008    Total Image posts 682    -   Total Image Comments 6001    -   Image Post to Comment Ratio 1:9    -   Image Comment Density 39     -     Total Forum Posts 921

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Commentby dinesh.ramarao on Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:24 am

Ganesh, to me sometimes the black and white 'confuses'. If you had hidden the color version of this image, I would have thought you made this image on a full moon day. So there are situations in nature - 'natutally' in black and white.
regards, -RD

Commentby Sriharsha Ganjam on Thu Apr 02, 2009 12:21 pm

Wow I think I would go with the BW version here. It looks much better and draws the attention directly to the eye. Even though this version lacks the blue tinge of the beak, it still works because, the eye of the owl takes over the entire attention from the viewer and we place the image in our heads with by taking in the eye first. In the color version the image is of an Owl with a beautiful eye (and a beautiful beak too, maybe). In the BW version its the image of a lovely eye which has an owl behind it. So I guess I am saying the BW approach to grabbing attention, works. Super shot and I have learnt something new for the Day :)

Commentby Santosh Saligram on Thu Apr 02, 2009 12:48 pm

To me the black and white version is an absolute winner! Simply love the emphasis on the eye - a physical attribute that is the most striking of all in owls, and provides ample opportunities for some creative images such as this. I simply LOVE the eye being reproduced as near-white, and standing out in darkish surroundings. It has tremendous impact on the overall composition of the image. I found it really striking when I first saw it on the homepage of your website and was ever since waiting to comment on it and convey how much I liked it. I reckon that this has all the makings of a Ganesh Shankar classic and be remembered as one of your most memorable images, along with the very best from you. I am giving this image a perfect 10 because I don't think it'll ever slip my mind and will remain one of my all-time favourites.

Commentby Santosh Saligram on Thu Apr 02, 2009 12:51 pm

And I agree with your views on black and white and admire the way you've conveyed the science behind how we perceive things and why and how things work the way they do, which nobody else can convey more articulately than you. I too have had some productive experiments with black and white...it's almost as though some images are simply MADE to be converted to 256 grays, and you can't see it any other way. Colour-clutter is the exact term for it. How precisely you have put it! I will try and share some of my previous experiments with black and white images shortly.

Commentby Nilanjan Das on Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:12 pm

I completely agree with you.

Nilanjan Das Photography

Commentby Pramod Viswanath on Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:16 pm

Ah! Here it is!! I knew exactly how it would look in gray scale. The eye is just captivating. When I talked to you on phone couple of days back, I was wishing you convert this to gray scale, now I am wanting to see it on the canvas!!

Pramod Viswanath
Frames from wild | My Blog
Our only limitation is imagination !

Commentby Nevil Zaveri on Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:08 pm

a classic one, ganeshji, that is all i can say. i'm speechless, my 10/10, for sure.


Nevil Zaveri

» Last edited by Nevil Zaveri on Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:10 pm; edited 1 time in total

Commentby Ashwini Kumar Bhat on Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:29 pm

I completely agree with the point that the B&W images eliminate the 'color clutter' which sometime reduce the true impact of the image. I have always believed that the colors add one more level of variable set for our mind to comprehend and if they gel well they add to the frame or if they not then they will pull the image down. In that sense the B&W images simplify our visual process and allows us to think beyond the image quickly... It is obvious that comprehending anything with 256 levels of only two shades is easy than with 256 levels of several different colors... our mind starts relating each color with each other and simultaneously feeling the overall impact as well, increasing the amount of processing of only the technical aspect! Lots of variables to handle during the process makes our mind to stick more towards the aesthetics than towards the emotional part of it. In this aspect the B&W image excels. But the decision of going B&W with an image is a very tricky one!
Coming to this image, personally I liked the color version of it more for the overall feel of it. But the presented one here has a totally different feel to me than the color version where the bright eye stands out in the relatively dark frame. I liked the grainy feel of the image as well. Thanks for sharing one Ganesh!

Ashwini Kumar Bhat
My scribblings | My Portfolio

Commentby Kaushik Balakumar on Fri Apr 03, 2009 2:54 pm

Using channel mixer to make yellow more prominent is really working great in this image. It is setting a mood of the dark/night with rest of the frame in lower tones & just the eyes twinkling bright.

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