Saturday, July 24, 2010

Monochromatic florals

Part of learning and growing as an artist is to challenge oneself.   With my photography, one of my favorite things I do is to take an otherwise average photo and see if there is anything I can do to elevate it to something unique using post-processing techniques.  Photo-editing software makes the process easy, but it's by no means a sure-fire ticket to creating an interesting and compelling image.   I know there are purists out there that feel that nothing should be done to a photo, either to manipulate the image before or after it is shot and developed, but I personally think this is nonsense.  As far as I am concerned, what matters is the artistic vision and final result, and not what was done (or not) to get to the end result.

In this case, I decided to take a subject - flowers - and turn them into value studies.  The impact and draw of flowers is more often than not their beautiful colors, so why strip color away?

The answer is the same as it with most black and white or monochromatic photographs:  to focus on value and form.  Color can often times be a crutch that we rely on in lieu of a strong design; let's face it:  even a poorly composed photo of a beautiful flower can still be pleasing to look at.   But, in black and white, the image must stand on its own, relying solely on value and form.  

Of course, this isn't going to work for many flowers, simply because they fall in the middle of the value range and all impact would be lost along with the color.  So, the challenge was to find images where the color wasn't what made the image.  

Here we have a wide variety of flowers, some solo, some not, that I've used a variety of pp techniques on.  At this time, I'm limited to what is offered in iPhoto, since I have not yet purchased the Mac version of PS Elements.  Nonetheless, sometimes it doesn't take much:  cropping, some minor adjustments to contrast or even just simple conversion to monochrome.  

black/white conversion, cropped

Field of Daisies
sepia conversion with color fade, edge blur

Crop, sepia conversion with color fade


sepia conversion with color fade

Shrubby Mallow (hibiscus tree) blossom
crop, sepia conversion with color fade, shadow and contrast adjust

Closed for the Evening
crop, sepia conversion, color fade


  1. Interesting how the sepia ones convey a melancholy feel (to me at least).

  2. Jala - I hadn't really thought about that, but I have to agree they do have a melancholy tone to them.


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