Monochrome Photography Ideas: 4 Ideas For Better Monochromatic Photography

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The first glance decides whether a photo is memorable to the viewer. To impress him, monochrome images are a good choice, that's why you present to your our Monochrome Photography Ideas.

After all, everyone has been calibrated to color signals from childhood: “Stand by red, walk with green”. This simple rule sticks in the mind as well as a successful red-green palette.

Closed photo series have their own personality that is straightforward. They can be hypothermic or fiery just like a human. If, in addition, there are some good picture ideas, a well- rounded work will be achieved with which you can present yourself to a community on the Internet or in an exhibition. Monochrome pictures also make a stylish greeting as a postcard motif.

However, the effect is not pre-programmed. For example, Picasso did not become famous with his “Blue Period” because he simply banned all other colors from the palette and relied on the effect of a single one. Rather, he conveyed something specific: his sadness and human misery. Apart from that, he simply suffered from the winter cold in Paris. Logically, the cool color palette found its concrete form in motifs such as beggars and the homeless. After he had overcome this phase, his circus pictures shone in a friendly pink.

The artist's monument can confidently be pushed aside, the simple quintessence is: Aside from academic considerations about color, your own projects ultimately count.

Monochrome Photography Ideas: 4 Ideas For Better Monochromatic Photography

Monochrome Photography Ideas: 4 Ideas For Better Monochromatic Photography

Monochrome: one color, many ideas

1. Would you like a slice more?

The most important utensil for our tip on monochrome “food photography”  is a wiping cloth. It is needed to rid the cradle of a scanner from the fruit salad invasion that has been imposed on it. The technology is standard among food photographers: instead of photographing fruit and vegetables in bulk, they cut them into thin slices . They arrange these appetizingly on the glass plate and literally achieve brilliant results. Because even though a scanner was not built for macro photography, it still delivers amazing results. The reasons for this are:

  1. Due to the construction, the recording is evenly illuminated, as the lights slowly scan the object.
  2. A scanner can even detect objects that are A4 and larger (depending on the scanning area). With a camera, on the other hand, you would often be too close to the subject.
  3. The objects stand out well without having to experiment with depth of field or backgrounds.
  4. Since the motifs of a scan do not usually run away, they can be arranged with care and calm.

sunshine on orange autumn leaf | Monochrome Photography Ideas
Autumn leaves show their various colors and shapes in the scanner. It can be used to design picture backgrounds or greeting cards.

The main limitation is the device's shallow depth of field, as the glass plate does not have the optical quality of a lens. Therefore, only flat motifs can be read in, while all details are already blurred at a distance of a few millimeters.

However, arrangements made of cut semi-precious stones, leaves or slices of fruit work particularly well when they are thin. Then they get a luminosity similar to that of church windows.

2. Compose color chords

blue sky with white little clouds | Monochrome Photography Ideas

A photo tells a story , the color scheme adds another. What do you think of, for example, when you hear the sequence red, blue, brown, light blue? It stands for the four elements fire, water, earth and air. National and club colors are associated with similarly strong emotions. Their simple scheme results in a memorable sequence of images that are suitable as illustrations or wall decorations. 

However, it can be argued that it is a shame to implement the symbolism of a color one-to-one. How worn it is can be seen from the fact that countless photographers have carried out similar projects - for example, recording the four elements in the appropriate colors. Repeating this recipe is no challenge for an ambitious photographer.

The example mentioned in the previous text shows how the color symbolism can be expanded. Red has a well-known signal effect, together with orange and green it forms the command sequence of a traffic light: wait, get ready, go. With little imagination, you can capture a pedestrian in the appropriate movements and then color the results.

A creative photographer, on the other hand, closes his eyes and leaves himself to the associations he associates with the traffic light colors: lurking for green, dreary waiting, reacting blindly when switching, social rules, people gathering, after work. This led to the idea of ​​regulating factories, consumption and leisure, which alternate like a traffic light. This training is also useful for anyone who wants to sell their own pictures as stock photos.

3. Explore the Ice Age

For the fact that nature torments with months of cold, she rewards the photographer with wonderful sculptures. With an optimistic view of clear winter days, a journey of discovery in ice and snow is ahead. It almost automatically leads an artist to his own “blue period” - if it doesn't sink him in gray mud.

A series of icicles can fill the photo album as a future reminder of winter. When it gets bitterly cold, fountains and waterfalls create the most beautiful shapes. And as the example with the pony sledge shows, winter fun is not impaired if it is given cool shades of color. On the contrary: the diffuse blue creates an atmospheric picture. 

  1. A classic problem with this is that the light meter goes crazy with all the white. He wants to reduce the abundance of light by radically underexposing. The consequence is that twilight falls over the winter landscape. In analog times, the recipe was: Deliberately overexpose about two f-stops. Since every digital camera now has a "Snow" mode, the problem has been resolved.
  2. Anyone who wants to achieve a bluish color without manipulating the computer is tricking the white balance. In the corresponding menu you set the option "light bulb". The camera expects a warm reddish light and steers strongly against it, which results in a nice frosty blue.
icy river and snowy mountains in the distance | Monochrome Photography Ideas
Even without a blue filter, winter mixes its own palette.

4. Follow nature

You can become famous with spartan teaching materials. Karl Blossfeldt, for example, taught at the arts and crafts school in Berlin. From 1899 he taught his students in the subject "modeling after plants". To do this, he needed visual material, for which he photographed asparagus, ferns and garlic.

Instead of romantic flower bouquets, Blossfeldt turned his attention to the architectural features - he never understood himself as an artist. Nonetheless, his books “Urformen der Kunst” and “Wundergarten der Natur” are still inspiring.

Above all, it needs an analytical eye to follow its example. The technical prerequisites are usually given without further investment costs: the macro mode is one of the strengths of digital cameras anyway due to the design. Otherwise, a tripod is recommended to help set the focus point correctly.

  1. If you have the opportunity to work in the studio, the lighting can be controlled quite easily. The main light comes from the front, which is a desk lamp, a construction spotlight or a studio flash depending on the equipment. The side of the plant can be lightened with two styrofoam plates, which have to be positioned accordingly.
  2. Interesting lighting results on every window sill. There a diffuse light is created by covering the glass with parchment paper. Styrofoam plates in front of the plant provide the front lighting. They are arranged at a 45-degree angle and thus direct the sun's rays to their front.
  3. Even in the great outdoors you can rarely do without reflectors. Practical pop-up foils that can be carried in your pocket can be bought for little money. If you take them out, they jump up to the size of a long-playing record.

natural green leaves sharp color | Monochrome Photography Ideas
A monochrome still life is more calming than a mixed bag. Because 1,600 years of Chinese wisdom cannot lie: "Splendor of colors blinds the eye" (Laotse).

Color circuit training

If you feel unsafe in the middle of puddles of paint, you can easily slip on them. Some shallows can be avoided if you follow the rules. 

The famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson consciously trained his eye to gain security. As a black and white photographer, he focused, among other things, on shades that he discovered on walls and on rusty iron.

Such exercises are particularly easy to carry out nowadays, as you are not reduced to 36 images that only need to be examined after development. Therefore, the entire color wheel can be traversed without cost and effort. Instead of long words, the example photos below should speak for themselves. A colorful dance can be created from the static motifs.

ancient spanish castle wooden door | Monochrome Photography Ideas
As a side effect, you develop an eye for craftsmanship.

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If you need more monochrome photography ideas you can check it out this article:

Or you can simply watch this video:

Those were our "Monochrome Photography Ideas: 4 Ideas For Better Monochromatic Photography" for you. We hope you enjoyed! Don't forget to leave us your question down below in the comments. We would love to hear from you.

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