Unexpected Beauty - Flowers and Plants in Black & White

July 01, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Plant and flower photography may not be something you think about much, but when you do ... (Please feel free to stop reading for a moment and think about it now; I'll wait.) ... What pops into your mind? Masses of blooms bursting forth in vivid color?  A single graceful flower in a soft peaceful pastel?  Lush green gardens, perhaps moist with dew or mist?  We all love those scenes, in person, and looking at them in photographs.  Undoubtedly, it takes a special talent to capture their richness in a way that can live up to the way we see them in person, or even in our mind's eye.


Today I want to mention another special, and sometimes unexpected, way to present photos of plants and flowers ... black and white.  Black and white both allows and compels us to appreciate them for their lines, shapes and details ... their architecture, so to speak.  Perhaps even their personalities, but that's a topic for another day!


Consider this closeup photo of a small potted succulent.  The image was captured in color, and was pleasant enough to look at, but not particularly exciting; it was just a sort of lumpy mass of fairly dull green.  Then it was converted to black and white, and without the distraction of somewhat unappealing color, the shapes, texture, and lighting came alive.  Our eyes get to wander around the image, taking in all the little round shapes that are simple in themselves, but intricately placed in patterns that make us marvel at nature's design.  The contrasts create a rich depth and texture we want to touch.  The directional light creates a "star" of the picture that reaches out to us from the lighter left side, and a more receding supporting cast on the darker right side that draws us in.  We take a more lingering and appreciative look than we might have if the photo had remained the original (and frankly unoriginal) and completely expected, green.


All this visual interest was made possible by thinking a little outside the box and considering the choice of black and white for a subject that isn't black and white in our "natural" visual world.  In doing so, we challenge our minds to appreciate something (a plant) for aspects other than the aspect we may first associate with it (color).  And isn't that what art is about ... appreciating our world in new ways?


I'd love to hear about your artistic choices in appreciating your world, so please feel free to leave me a message.  As always, I wish you happy shooting and a satisfying photographic journey!


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