Tough Choices

One of the pitfalls (if you can call it that) about being a photographer is having to decide which image to use.

I tend to take multiple shots of whatever my subject is.  Sometimes I do that in order to get the lighting right, but I also do it because a certain object can yield all sorts of interesting looks.  For instance, if I’m photographing a building, do I want to focus on its relation to the sky and whatever clouds might be there?  Or do I want to take a close up of any molding or architectural details that I find intriguing?  Heck, when Craig and I went to Greece for our honeymoon, I must’ve taken 20-30 different angles of the Athens National Library Steps . . . six of which I think were good enough to keep, and three or four of those are on our website.

But the other tough choice I often have to make is whether to keep an image in the original color, or whether I should change it to black and white.  Granted, there are some shots that just beg for classic black and white, while others clearly need to showcase the gorgeous colors.  But I’d have to say–for me, anyway–the choice is easy only 50% of the time.

Frank-Ogawa-Plaza-TowerFrank-Ogawa-Plaza-Tower_BWFor instance, the earth tones of the Frank Ogawa Tower in Oakland look cool against the cloud-filled sky in the image to the left.  But when I switch it to black and white, the overcast day looks even more foreboding, which then makes the tower look more like a castle turret, rather than the modern office building it really is.  Both are interesting and unique in their own ways, and I found it very hard to decide which one to put up on our website.  As you can probably guess by now . . . I chose to put include both.  (Sometimes when it feels like a tough choice, the best choice is to not make any choice).

Oakland-Clock-Tower_03Oakland-Clock-Tower_03_BWAnother dilemma for me was the the clock tower on top of City Hall, again in Oakland, California.  These images were taken on the same day as those of the Frank Ogawa Tower, but it was a little bit later in the morning, so there was more blue in the sky which contrasted nicely with the ecru of the building’s stones in the original color version.  However, after playing around with the image in Photoshop and checking out how it would look in black and white, the focus then became the building itself and all the architectural details, and not so much the color of the sky.

Oakland-Fox-Theatre_01_BWOakland-Fox-Theatre_01And then there’s the Fox Theatre, also in Oakland.  When I saw this building that morning, I immediately saw it in B&W in my head.  I wanted to capture the grandeur of the theatre’s heyday, and I felt that would best be achieved without color.  But when I saw the full-color version on my screen, I was blown away by the gorgeous hues in the building.  So I felt I had to keep that one, too.  This way, one image could be used for anything that might be focused more on nostalgia, and the other might be able to be used in, say, a tourist pamphlet or book.  Or maybe even the theatre’s own advertising materials.

So, while some images are clearly either/or, sometimes an image works well both ways.  That’s why we photographers like to play around with the editing so much . . . it’s all about the choices.