Old stone houses looking worn
Croatia,  Monochrome Madness,  Photographic techniques,  Travel galleries

Gallery: seeing Split in black and white

Andri Cauldwell, American photographer

A friend recently shared some of his black and white images from our Virtual Tourist meeting on Facebook. Another friend commented:

All the towns we visited in Croatia and Montenegro (yes even in the rain) were so glowing with cream from the flags and stones and warm orange from the roofs that it seems a shame (to me) to take that away and consign them to drab black, white and grey.

So which is better, monochrome or colour?

I accept that if you look at a photo as a memento of a place you have visited, you will probably want it to be a colour one, as you saw that place in colour. But while it is true that Croatia has lots of colour, I find that a monochrome edit can bring out details that you perhaps don’t notice otherwise, and didn’t notice at the time. To paraphrase what I said in my recent post on black and white portraits, use of monochrome simplifies the image. It creates an edginess to the shot and emphasises shape and form. So I was keen to experiment with my own shots to see which would work well in this format.

When I shared these shots on Facebook it sparked an interesting debate about the merits (or otherwise) of black and white photography. But one thing became clear. Looking at both colour and monochrome versions of the same image, people tend to be drawn to different elements. Maybe a passer-by stands out more in one version than the other. Maybe a building detail becomes more obvious when colour is removed.

So in a departure from my usual Monochrome Madness galleries, this week I’ve included both colour and black and white edits. I’m curious to see which versions my blogging friends prefer and how their views compare with the ones expressed in response to my Facebook post.

Do check out Leanne’s Monochrome Madness page to learn more about this fun challenge. Maybe you’d like to host a theme from time to time? If so, do contact Leanne via her page.

Disclaimer: I myself feel the colour version works best in some of these, although I like these black and white edits too. But I’m not saying which, for now! All were edited with Nik Silver Efex Pro.

Stone lionStone lion

By the entrance to Saint Domnius Cathedral

Looking up at the ornate carvings at the top of a stone columnLooking up at the ornate carvings at the top of a stone column

Looking up at a tall tower against the sky
Looking up at a tall tower against a blue sky

Sculpture of a man beckoning
Sculpture of a man beckoning

Small stone carved face

Art Nouveau style carving of a woman on the facade of a building
Art Nouveau style carving of a woman on the facade of a building

Two men in a street of stone houses
Two men in a street of stone houses

Tall narrow building with shutters
Tall narrow building with shutters

Closed wooden shutters
Closed green shutters

Closed wooden shutters
Closed green shutters

Sculpture of a convoluted figure
Sculpture of a convoluted figure

I visited Split in May 2024


  • Amy

    Excellent, Sarah! Beautiful mono image. B/W images bring out the light and shadow better. The comparisons here are great!

  • wetanddustyroads

    For me: Colour is prettier (or is striking the right word), while B&W emphasises the detail. So there is room for both these mediums and only a seasoned photographer like you will know when to use which one that will best suit the moment.

  • rkrontheroad

    Such an interesting comparison… There are a few that jumped out at me in color though, the one with the little flowerpots on the wall and the shutters.

  • Rose

    I’ve looked at your photos for a while and still couldn’t choose a favorite. It’s delightfully fascinating (for my eyes and my soul) to see your images in both options. 😊

  • Annie Berger

    I’ll like that you chose to post both the color and black and white photos side by side, Sarah. Generally, I prefer the color photos, but the black and white photos of the bell tower and the other buildings I preferred in the black and white form. I’m torn between the shutter photos, however!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      If it helps, I’m torn between the shutter photos too! And although as a general rule I tend to like B&W for street photography but I’m leaning towards colour for the street here.

  • Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter

    Definitely the one with the flowers is better in colour. I kind of contradict myself with some of the others, eg I like one set of shutters better in b&w (the first) and the others in colour – maybe because they have a more washed out look anyway.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Anabel 🙂 I do agree about the street with the flowers, on balance. As for the shutters, I keep changing my mind, or rather, I feel both versions work about as well as each other, for different reasons 😉

  • Monkey's Tale

    Most of the buildings here tend to be monotone so the bw is nice to let you see some of the details. Except for the Sulphur baths, which are a surprising blue. I prefer it in colour for that reason. The windows and the narrow street scene, I prefer in colour otherwise what makes it unique doesn’t standout to me in BW. Maggie

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you for the feedback Maggie. The sculptures on the Sulphur Baths building are actually more grey than blue but my photo shows them rather blueish, I agree 🙂 I like the windows in both versions personally, but the street scene is the one I definitely prefer in colour myself, although the B&W would look good had I never seen the colour! A good example of why it’s best to shoot in colour and then convert 😀

  • thehungrytravellers.blog

    Hmmm. My own view (definitely not an expert one!) is that this collection proves your point that it works sometimes but not always. Some of these examples are given character by the b/w “conversion”, but for others, for me anyway, it’s drained all the life out of the subject. The street with the two guys is a good example of the latter.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      None of us is an expert Phil! And that street image is the one that’s divided most people and I confess is one of the few I felt should probably be left in colour 😆

  • Suzanne

    I think B&W showcases more details in the actual photo, colour can distract from that. Both have a place. Colour is especially preferred by many when capturing a sunset. As you know B&W is a favourite of mine. I haven’t explored Croatia, a woman living in our apartment block is there at the moment.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Suzanne 🙂 I agree about the details, on the whole. Croatia is beautiful, especially the stunning coastline. I’ll have more posts from our short stay in due course 🙂

  • Anne Sandler

    All black and white except for the “narrow street” image. It had bright colors. Most of the pictures were more or less monochrome anyway and the color in them didn’t add much. However in black and white, the details stood out. Here’s where the difference between monochrome and black and white stands out. My mind’s eye didn’t take the sky into consideration.

  • Marie

    I prefer monochrome for the cathedral details etc but when I scroll down to the street scenes I prefer the colour option – just look at those lovely flower pots, the warm brick and the weathered greens of the shutters….

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you for the feedback Marie, and I do know what you mean about the street scenes. Normally I favour monochrome for street photography but on the shot of those two men I’m torn between the two versions!

  • margaret21

    I surprised myself by preferring monochrome in every case here. Colour didn’t seem.essential to an appreciation of the subject,and I felt better able to focus without that ‘distraction’. It wouldn’t always be the case however. But here, with these particular subjects, it worked really well.

Do share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you! And please include your name in case WP marks you 'anonymous' - thank you