Black and white steam train 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. However, many people prefer to have steam train photos developed in black and white.
Steam trains suit black and white photography. Often, a steam train is not the most colourful of subjects. That is not to say there is no colour on a typical steam train scene. For instance, greenery always makes for a lovely background. Including colour in this way can enhance the composition of the photo. The steam train itself will usually painted in quite muted colours and often is 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. It helps to give it a more down to earth feeling, allowing you to showcase it with nature giving more depth to the overall image.
Photographers have often turned their colour shoots into black and white alternatives. While that may not be quite as popular 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 present variations when capturing their subjects. The light is portrayed differently in both photos. When looking at steam train photos, some elements take on a whole new life. Steam can look very dramatic in black and white!
Partly because of the history of photography, a black and white photo assumes an ‘older’ quality. Many people will be want to create ‘aged’ photographs with an air of nostalgia. This resonates well when a subject has a very ‘traditional’ feel to it, such as steam trains.
Historically, black and white was the only photography option. However today, black and white photos are used infrequently although many photographers do favourite this style. Ultimately, both black and white and colour photography can work well when it comes to train photos.
Let me know by commenting below if you prefer black and white or colour photos when capturing steam trains.
Colin Wallace specializes in taking railway photos on the mainline and heritage railways in the South West of England. Visit his website Railway Photography to find out more and see more of his work.