When we think of monochrome, probably most people think of black and white. But monochrome also means … in fact, it literally means … one color (from the Greek monokhromatos: mono, meaning one + khromatos or khroma, meaning color).
I love black and white, and I love presenting plants in black and white (shameless self-promotion alert … see my July 2014 blog post, Unexpected Beauty: Flowers and Plants in Black & White). Recently, though, I’ve been experimenting with monochrome in the “one color” sense.
To get a monochromatic image, you could try to stage a scene to shoot in one color, for example, a blue object against a blue background. This would be tricky, though, because light has color. Perhaps it could be done under the right conditions, with the right equipment, lighting, and definitely a very skilled and determined photographer. Maybe an experiment for another day …
I used two simple methods to produce the images above and below. Both started out with color photos, which I first converted to black and white. By the way, you should always shoot color even when your goal is a black and white or monochromatic photo, as the color data allows you to process your image to get different looks in black and white … sounds like a good topic for a future post, no?
Anyway, I converted my images to black and white, then, for the echeveria image above, I used a powder blue photo tint, in the overlay blend mode at 100%. I warmed up the hue of the tint just a bit, and made my usual photo adjustments (contrast, etc.). The photo tint is from Shadowhouse Creations, and if you’re not familiar with Shadowhouse Creations, you really must check it out. The creator, Jerry Jones, is extremely talented, and extremely generous, as Shadowhouse is a free resource.
For the grass image below, again, I converted it to black and white, but this time, I inserted a solid color layer, using the color burn blend mode at 55%. So while a purple image of grass in sidewalk cracks may not be for everyone, you get the idea, right?
Whatever your subject, the monochrome really makes the image all about the structure and texture of the subject, while giving our eyes some color to feast upon as well. The color chosen can also lend to the mood of the photo: ethereal, soothing, vibrant, jarring, melancholy, etc.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to leave me a message. As always, I wish you happy shooting, and a satisfying photographic journey!
Trivia p.s. … What three syllable word rhymes with monochrome?