Which is Better: Colour or Black and White Steam Train Photos?

Which is Better: Colour or Black and White Steam Train Photos?

Black and white photography has of course been around a lot longer than colour. Now we live in a time where colour is a possibility, and the default option of a modern camera. But you will still find plenty of people having their steam train photos developed in black and white.

Many people would say that, yes, steam trains suit black and white photography. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is because a steam train is not the most colourful subjects. That is not to say there is no colour to be picked out in a typical steam train scene. For instance, greenery always makes for a lovely background. Including colour in this way can look very nice. The steam train itself will usually be quite muted in its colours if it has any at all, it is more likely to be just a shade of black or white. Perhaps this is one of the reasons black and white seems to suit steam train photography so well.

If you aim to add vibrancy to your photos then naturally go with colour. As mentioned, a colourful background, or foreground, can help to bring your main focus alive a bit. It helps to give it a more down to earth feeling, allowing you to showcase it alongside with nature, leading to more depth within the overall image.

Photographers have often turned their colour shoots into black and white alternatives. While that may not be quite as popular a practise as it once was there are still plenty who do this, for stylistic purposes.

If you saw the same two shots side by side, only one was in colour and one black and white, you would almost certainly conclude that they both capture their subject very different. For instance, how light is portrayed in black and white is very different from when a photo is in colour. And other elements of a photo, such as when looking at steam train photos, take on a new life in black and white, such as how steam is portrayed. Steam can look very dramatic in black and white!

Partly because of the history of photography, having something in black and white can give it an ‘older’ quality. And that does not have to be a bad thing as many people will be wanting to create ‘aged’ photographs, particularly with a subject that has a very ‘traditional’ feel to it, such as steam trains.

GWR 0-6-0PT No: 1369

GWR 0-6-0PT No: 1369 is seen at the Royal Mile working the 11.15 Bishops Bridge to Totnes ‘Goods’ train on the 19th February 2016 during the South Devon Railway Winter Gala.

Going back further enough, black and white was the only option as colour had not yet been developed. But, although black and white is not quite as widely used as it once was, there are plenty of photographers who will swear by it even whilst they now have the option of colour. With this all said, both black and white and colour photography can work well when it comes to train photos. Ultimately, what you as a photographer want to achieve with your shots will help you decide if black and white or colour is right for you.

If you have any comments feel free to reply to this blog post, thank you.

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