Mediums of monotones
In the absence of color, you simplify, isolate and look to highlight other elements – light, shapes, lines and textures. You have creative options, you can go high key bathing the image in white space, or you can use low key monopolizing the image in black. You have the power of perspective, capturing the subject in another angle or view. Then you arrange all these elements and apply all these options in a harmonious interplay. A photographer goes for a balance of the creative and the technical to come up with a compositionally sound image. Why these hassles in monotones?
Simply because color is so ordinary. Don’t get me wrong. In art, color alone can provide the single biggest impact. It is that powerful. The same goes in photography. Using color with the techniques of contrast, isolation, color complementing, saturation and others, produces attention-grabbing images. Among the many elements, you notice color first. That is why color is ordinary because it is everywhere, ubiquitous and universal. Take away color and you work hard to give prominence to the other elements. To do just that, you carefully apply the tools and options mentioned in the first paragraph. Experts suggest we train our eyes to see in black and white – to perceive elemental forms and shapes and patterns, to be aware of shades and shadows, to appreciate light and darkness. Black and white images are classic, clean and precise, devoid of the clutter and distraction of color. They come across fresh, pure and absolute. Which gives us color photographers a respite, alternative and new artistic direction. Come to think of it, we can be masters of color, but when it comes to black and white, we elevate ourselves into visionaries – mediums of monotones.