Black and White Flower Photography

April 24, 2017


The idea of black and white, or monochrome, flowers may seem unusual, however like any monochrome conversion when done well, the subject, and our inbuilt perception of what it’s supposed to be and look like, almost become irrelevant. Black and white or monochrome images of plants and flowers can be often be edited in a variety of ways to create varying moods such as; striking, elegant, sophisticated, dainty, dreamy, sombre and so on.  Possibilities that simply may not work when the colour still exists.

Flower, blackandwhite, photograph, monochromeCosmos - BacklitA single large bright area against a dark tone makes for a very powerful and eye catching image

Backlit Cosmos

I sometimes edit my flower images in several different ways, trying out different feels and moods on the same image. I am definitely not a person who has a completely set idea of what I want to produce from the outset. Things evolve along the way, and that’s half the fun. You can be creative as you go along. Flowers can definitely be a useful subject to use to improve your photographic skills.   Most of us are not lucky enough to have instant access to stunning landscapes, but flowers are always available.  Buy a pot from your garden centre, hopefully they may flower for weeks and you can move the pot around. Shoot them indoors or out, make the best use of the light and backgrounds that you have. It’s a cheap and time efficient way of potentially getting a lot of varied images.   Most of own my shots are done outdoors, and I don’t actually have any studio equipment. 

  Tears in RainTears in Rain

Same original image edited in two different ways. Each has it own 'feel' or mood.

Flowers which make good monochrome subjects are generally those with light petals. White is the obvious best choice, especially if you are new to it. Cosmos, Japanese Anemone and Astrantia make especially good subjects.   Big blocks of tone (eg a big white flower against a dark background), can make the image remarkably powerful.  Backlit flowers done in this manner are particularly good.

It’s a good idea to always photograph your flowers in using RAW format. Shooting in JPEG means you will lose an awful lot of data which you can otherwise usefully manipulate within the editing process.

Monochrome, flower, photograph, Tattered

A moody monochrome image of a somewhat tattered Cosmos flower.

The number one lesson to learn about creating black and white photographs, or indeed any kind of photograph, is that the human eye is always immediately drawn to the area of the lightest light against darkest dark. This creates the focal point.  If your intended focal point does not coincide with the strongest light to dark point, then the viewer will be torn as to where to look.  Think about this the next time you are composing or editing anything.  Thinking about tone (ie light and dark areas) and using it to your advantage within the composition is absolutely key. 



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