As anyone who has ever seriously pursued photography can tell you, you end up with exponentially more failed images than successful ones. Our hard drives are filled with near misses, images that failed in some fundamental way to capture the essential nature of the thing being photographed. Images that are almost good.
I find that my own digital folders are stuffed with such images that are almost good. Pleasant, colorful, well composed images that still somehow fail to inspire. Ideas and experiments that nearly worked, but in the end seemed unfinished and unredeemable. Images that came tantalizingly close, but were missing some intangible element that would make them succeed as prints.
I even have a folder that I keep these digital photos in called, of course, “Almost Good”.
This is one of my favorite folders. It’s a place I return to again and again, trying to breathe digital life into photographs that didn’t quite make the cut. Trying different crops, different color temperatures, studying the nuances in an effort to gain insight into why they didn’t work.
Most of the time these images are forever destined to remain labeled “almost good”, as I am unable to salvage them to my satisfaction. But, sometimes, to my utter surprise, the simplest of adjustments takes an image where I wanted it to go all along. A black and white conversion.
I never photograph with black and white in mind, but converting after the fact has, on occasion, given me results that I find much more appealing than the color version. It is especially useful to try it on images that are “almost good”, as sometimes it may be color itself that’s in the way.
The following image is an example of a photo that only worked for me in black and white.