The Power of Monochrome
In Photography, there are many different techniques that can be used in order to draw the viewer's attention on a certain feeling, theme, or area of an image. Sometimes an image becomes more powerful by being simplified, by stripping it down to it's bare essence. If you look hard enough, you may also notice certain scenes that are naturally monochromatic. These are great opportunities to take advantage of for some compelling image making. Monochromatic processing or Black and White can help you to break down an image and eliminate distracting colors, poor color combinations, or unflattering colors or improve harsh light. These are some instances where monochromatic processing can be a powerful tool in making your image a more impactful viewing experience.
1. Remove Unwanted Colors: In this image, the cave was very dark so the image wasn't too colorful to begin with. The light was very white since it was during midday and the water was an unpleasant looking brown color because of all the sand. Desaturating this image and giving it a blueish tint helped to simplify it and draw more attention to the light coming in through the end of the tunnel. The dark, blue look adds a certain mood to the image as well, whereas the inharmonious colors I was actually dealing with would have made it much more confusing and unpleasant to look at.
2. Focus on Form: A monochrome effect worked well in this snowy image since it was already mostly white anyways. Simplifying it to just one single tone helps to draw more attention to the subject and strips the scene down to the bare minimum, revealing these wavy, curvy lines full of movement. If these scene was full of a big range of colors, this kind of idea wouldn't work, since the colors would then distract the viewer from being able to see the many hypnotic lines. For me, the wavy lines are super important for the mood and feeling of this photo.
3. Add Drama: B&W allows you to get away with having an image with more intense shadows and highlights. Black and white images look most appealing when they have true white and true black somewhere in the image, this way it is not just an overall flat and grey scene, but a wide variety of tonal values throughout. The intense contrast can give your image more mood even if you are stuck shooting in harsher, less ideal light.
4. Show Off Textures: By removing the color from this scene, I draw more attention to the rugged textures in the glacier. The dirt areas were also an unflattering brown that was not harmonious with the rest of the scene, causing for distraction. The glowing ridges are accentuated more and the image can be appreciated in a different way, allowing more attention on the lines and formations instead of the varying colors that were in the ice.
5. Focus on Patterns: This icicle scene was naturally all shades of blue. In photoshop I adjusted certain areas to match and make this image truly monochromatic. This draws more attention on the repeating and seemingly endless layers of icicles and helps add even more depth.
Here are some more examples of how scenes can be more powerful by removing color.