Street: Better in Color?

Occasionally I make a street image that seems to work pretty well in color — and then I’m torn because I really think street works better in black and white.  Such a thing happened here.

04-22 Paris 16-2

This is a street person and his two dogs napping in the morning sun along the Left Bank of the Seine in Paris.  The first hurtle I had was whether or not to violate my own rule:  Do not shoot the downtrodden.  I made the image anyhow because his face was hidden behind his hat and, as a commenter on Google+ said when I posted it there, the image is “sad but sweet”.  I would even argue that the man’s love for his dogs raises his dignity level beyond many in the crowd of business men walking by him that morning.

But I digress.

The one element that makes this picture in color is the little coin basket with blue highlights.  While color is usually distracting in a street photo, in this case it pulls the eye easily to the important money basket.  It is a significant part of the story and I didn’t want to lose it when I converted to black and white.  The solution, however, was pretty simple.  In the Develop Module in Lightroom I had only to make the black and white conversion and then adjust the Black & White Mix sliders to get the effect I wanted.  In this case I drag the blue slider to minus 90,  This brings the blue details in the basket to almost pure black and gives the coin basket the prominence I want in the image.

04-22 Paris 16

What do you think?  Comments are always welcomed.

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Jeff Gulle - I agree I prefer it in B/W. Another option is to keep it in color and mute most of the colors with a hint of a difference on the money basket. Where I may do the opposite effect.

Barb - John,
I have no clue what you are talking about, I personally like the color one. It softens the truthful gloom of the homeless.. The dogs in this are priceless with the color you can see their devotion to their owner even under stressful times. I will bet you, they eat before he does!
Love them both..

Melissa Henderson - I really like the black and white one but the color one speaks to me. The puppies in color has tons of detail, while in b/w the white patch of fir on the puppies chest is lost.

I am digging the new blog!

Jan Hof - I prefer it in color. The nice light colors of the dogs drawn the first attention and then you start looking further into the image and discover the strange situation. In the B/W I’m rather clueless where to look first.

skeeter - You’re probably right, Jan. Your comment (and the one by Melissa) have made me re-think my preference for the black and white version. By-the-way, I checked out your site at Although I could only piece together the Dutch, I really enjoyed your nature and architectural photography.

Lisa Griffis - I agree with the color photo being the best to capture this scene. You have the almost black and white image of the man and his coat, brightened by the rich brown of his dogs (His dogs bring joy to his life) Then you have the deep blue in the bowl, blue usually symbolizing loyalty (He takes care of his dogs) Maybe over analytical but that was my 5 sec story when I saw this

skeeter - Lisa — I confess that I don’t do a lot of what you just did: Look at the symbolism of the various ingredients of an image. Lesson learned (for me). Thanks for your observations. John

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