We humans with our superb color vision seem inordinately fond of bright, colorful images. Nothing wrong with that, but sometimes the color tones in a multi-hued bright image almost distract from the message, and other times the colors are so monochromatic, the scene is almost monotonous instead of dramatic. In these instances, sometimes conversion to black and white format is useful to keep the viewer’s eye focused on image content.
I thought the New Mexican landscapes were stunning and spectacular, but I didn’t feel the color version of my photos did justice to the drama of those scenes, so I played around with some of the images to see whether B&W conveyed the message any better. What do you think?
This is the famous and frequently photographed Chimney Rock, viewed from the trail at Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu, NM. With scenes like this shot at mid-day, the landscape gets flat and even highly sculpted rocks lack detail.
The same scene converted first to B&W using a red filter, and then with a sepia tone added.
There are a lot of objects drawing viewer attention here — perhaps away from the cleaved rock in the foreground. The purpose of the photo was to showcase this dramatic split rock standing alone among the shrubs in this grassy plain.
Does this version work better?
Often photographed from this and other angles, Mt. Perdernal, a flat-topped mesa of chert in the background, was one of Georgia O’Keefe’s favorite landscape subjects. Lake Abiquiu is remarkably high, due to recent monsooon rainstorms here. In this case, I really like the contrast of the purple mountains in the background and the red rocks in the foreground in the color version.
One of many landscapes of Pedernal Mountain painted by Georgia O’Keefe — this one from roughly the same vantage point as my photograph.
I’m not sure the B&W conversion adds to this scene. What do you think?
Note added: This is the 900th post on Backyard Biology!