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  • Writer's pictureAndy Brown

Colour? or Black and White?

The age-old question


Take a look at the 1st image above. What does it say to you? Moody? Cold? Atmospheric? or Hopeful? Inspiring? Enduring? Now take a look at the image below.


What does the 2nd image above say? Calm? Peaceful? Welcoming? Homely? Restful

It's probably true to say that monochrome images inspire different thoughts and emotions to colour ones. The lack of colour information forces us to take a step back from reality and evaluate an image based on less information. Of course these two otherwise identical images are already distanced from reality to a certain degree by my choice of a 15second exposure. This has allowed detail in the sea to smooth out, while still retaining a sense of movement. The Cormorants on the rock beyond have obligingly remained still while the slower moving clouds retain almost all their detail and give just a hint of the Sun setting to the far left out of picture. The colour image has been treated to a deliberately restricted palette of colours to enhance the wintry scene, whilst the monochrome one has had the detail on the foreground rocks picked out with enhanced contrast and texture. In both however, the scene is a balanced one with the lighthouse leading the eye into the scene, then on to the Cormorants and eventually the sky above. A nice detail is the wind-vane on the Lighthouse pointing straight out into Carrick Roads.

As a shoot, my main difficulty was in finding a good angle to shoot the lighthouse. I think I did achieve this, although I would have liked to have been a little further round. Graduated ND filters to darken the bright sky were out because of the irregular horizon and the lighthouse being white. Fortunately the relatively low contrast allowed me to manage the scene successfully and although the sky was grey, there were brief gaps allowing a little more light through. The access was difficult and as ever, finding a secure place to put my tripod on was challenging whilst at the same time being mindful of my personal safety. I had of course prior to departure let my partner know my destination in case of mishap.

So there we have it. Two interpretations of one scene, but are they equal facets of the same thing. Or is there a fundamental divide? Your thoughts on this would be welcome.

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