Photography with Monochromatic Color

Photography with Monochromatic Color

  • From a restricted range of colors in a picture, it's just a short step to a monochromatic image. Many natural phenomena create scenes of a single color: smoke, for example, washes a landscape with a near-uniform grey.

  • The camera, though, provides other ways to narrow down the range of colors in a scene. Colored filters, for example, transmit light of just one color, and absorb light of contrasting colors. Deep-colored filters eliminate all but one hue.

  • Diffusion filters create monochromatic images in a different way, by spreading the highlights of the pictures into the shadow areas. So by diffusing a landscape scene that features a bright blue sky, you could tint the whole image blue.

  • Exposure provides a further control. Normal exposure records colors in their "natural" relationship, but altering exposure distorts the colors in the scene. Cutting exposure - by setting a faster shutter speed or a smaller aperture - is like mixing black in with a brightly colored paint. The darker pictures that result are suffused and unified by their muted earth hues.

  • This approach produces somber, low-key images, and increasing exposure is perhaps a more useful technique. As you'd expect, deliberate overexposure is like adding white, and as the hues in the scene get lighter, color conflicts are erased, and the picture becomes increasingly monochromatic.

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