Working in monochrome

Color is descriptive. Black and white is interpretive. – Elliot Irwitt


As can be seen by regular visitors to my blog, 99% of my images are monochrome. When I am taking photographs, I tend to see most things in a black and white way. I have no problem in processing the images most of the time to my satisfaction. I do take colour images but I find it difficult to realise my photographic vision when it comes to processing them.

I don’t find that almost all my photographs being black and white restricts my creativity in any way.  I feel that my particular style is black and white photography processed in a way that I like, but within that, I still have access to all the different types of photography that exists.

The four images below show that even when not using colour there are so many different subjects that can be taken and shown in monochrome and which have equally valid things to say. As the quote from Irwitt above says, colour will describe the scene as we see it, but monochrome encourages the viewer to invest in the picture and to arrive at their own conclusions.



Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-135mm F3.5-5.6R LM OIS WR

This image is in a graphic style, stripping out the detail so only the contrast is shown making a minimalist style abstract. In monochrome, it is not always necessary to show all the tones in a scene. Sometimes, as they say, less is more.



Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-135mm F3.5-5.6R LM OIS WR

In contrast to the first image, this is a close-up photograph, which because it excludes the colours of the plants encourages the viewer to look more closely at the tones and the shapes of the leaves.



Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-135mm F3.5-5.6R LM OIS WR

This photograph of a lake and small shack. In colour, it wasn’t that interesting. It was a winter’s day and the light was low. The lake itself was dark and all the colours subdued. By processing in monochrome I was able to give a mysterious perhaps even ominous air to the scene.




Fujifilm X-T1, Fujinon XF18-135mm F3.5-5.6R LM OIS WR

Finally, this picture of the sea swirling around the rock works in black and white because the scene is reduced to the contrast between the tones across the image. In colour, the rock had a colour which would have isolated it more from the sea. I wanted all of the components to be part of the greater whole, creating what is almost an abstract.


As photographers, we are all different and whether we take mostly colour or monochrome or both then we should use the medium to its utmost to bring out the images we want to make.




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