Colour or Monochrome?

Thursday is my day for more off beat posts, so here is a photography post.

Since I have been submitting pictures to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness I have become more and more interested in the difference between what makes a good colour picture and what works better in monochrome and would like to share some of my observations with you.

Let us start with a couple of pictures that I feel work just as well in both.

Here is a photograph I took recently on the Isle of Wight. I was especially struck by the progression in size and colour from one donkey to the other.

Donkeys (colour)

In monochrome you find a similar progression.

Donkeys (monochrome)

I like taking pictures with a framed view – This one was again taken on the Isle of Wight – from under the pier.

Under the pier (colour)

The frame and the slightly misty view works well in both I think.

Under the pier (monochrome)

However if we look at one of my favourite photographs of Southampton Common in Autumn.

Southampton Common in autumn (colour)We find that in black and white it loses interest because the original relies on the mix of greens and golds.

Southampton Common in autumn (monochrome)In monochrome it is rather insipid.

I tried the same comparison with one of my more recent Autumn pictures though and found a different situation.

Here the shadows are the most important part of the picture

Autumn shadows (colour)

and so in monochrome the shadows are maybe even more emphasised.

Autumn shadows (monochrome)

and especially if you increase the contrast.

Autumn shadows (monochrome-more contrast)

The colours of the original are also important in monochrome photographs.

A rose that is creamy white in the original

White rose (colour)

becomes a clearer white in the black and white version

White rose (monochrome)

but a red rose

Red rose (colour)

becomes an uninspiring dark grey.

Red rose (monochrome)

However a photograph that I took on the Isle of Wight that I rejected for my post as uninteresting with no focus,

Looking out to sea (colour)

I felt had more unity in the monochrome version.

Looking out to sea (monchrome)

And although I don’t think this is a bad photograph in colour

Fly in a flower (colour)

I think it is even more striking in black and white.

Fly in a flower (monochrome)

I am not a professional photographer (obvious I know!) but a happy amateur.

I would be interested in any tips or comments you have on the subject.


8 thoughts on “Colour or Monochrome?

  1. Really interesting! I am amazed the difference on the one of the 2 ladies on the beach. There is so much more to see in the monochrome one; especially the water running back into the sea around their feet.


  2. Thank you for sharing your photos and for me, a very helpful lesson in photography. I seldom think of moving my photos to monochrome. I’m excited to try doing this. I have a similar photo I took of a bumble bee on a petunia, which I might try changing to monochrome. The white rose is just stunning in monochrome. Loved them all.


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