Monday, February 14, 2011

Contrast in Nature ~ Mono Monday!

"Spring Becomes Her"
(1/60 sec @ F/11, ISO 200, 19mm fl, 18-55mm kit zoom, early morning bright light)

This Mono Monday I decided to go with a landscape. Actually, a landscape taken in the midst of the city along the Niagara Escarpment, overlooking Hamilton, Ontario. This is Sam Lawrence Park, one of the best maintained and most beautiful perennial gardens in the area. It's layered with varieties of plants and trees that all compliment one another throughout different parts of the year. I have files upon files of this park, I never get tired of photographing it! It's a welcome contrast to much of the rest of the smoggy, chaotic city scene.

This particular landscape was chosen to become the Black and White version above because I was drawn to the heavy contrast throughout the scene. The light chisels out the edge of this part of the escarpment, diagonally  across the composition, emphasizing the rock face along the path. And the bright clusters of early flowers contrast against the shaded rocks, spilling over and under and around, paying no attention to the harsh light about to creep across the trail. All this contrasting shadow and light, it's hard to meter for, to make sure you take a reading off a very neutral area of stone or greenery so that your highlights don't blow out, but you also don't loose details in the shadows. Your exposure needs the right mixture of both.

The other reason I knew this would work as a monochromatic image was because of all the textures that make up the scene. Also, there's layers within the composition, from the low foreground elements, all the way back into the background with trees adding height, something I always look for in a landscape of any kind. Keeps the image from being one dimensional. Even though it's in B and W, it still needs to come to life when others look at it. That's the danger of a Black and White image, that it becomes a flat representation of what we see in the lens. Keeping that in mind as I edited this image I actually used a different B and W filter on two separate layers of the same shot. The one filter is a Platinum fx filter which is great for defining dark areas when converting to B and W. The other layer was edited with an Infra Red filter which gives a glow and stark contrast to all the highlights. Layering the IR layer subtly into the Platinum layer gave me a very dynamic B and W, full of life. I knew I had to share this image for today. And I hope you approve.

Don't be afraid to be creative, even in B and W. Especially in landscapes! Use contrasting elements to your advantage. Challenge yourself to see without color!
As always, thanks for letting me ramble on! Have a super awesome Monday folks!
And Happy Valentine's Day as well!


  1. Love your work Christine; just sorry I didn't win the contest. I'm sure Sarah's going to love and enjoy the print. Don't forget to let us know when your next draw is to take place.

  2. Thank you Renee :-) I'm so glad you've ben following along with us! And yes, keep your eyes peeled for the next draw... it was lot's of fun!