Monochrome with Meaning

Morkel Erasmus All Authors, Morkel Leave a Comment

Many people don’t like black-and-white photography. Many others absolutely love it. I’m one of the latter. Yet, one of the biggest mistakes people can make (and believe me I’ve made it a LOT in the past) is to think that converting to monochrome will “save” an image or to not think properly about why they want to convert it to monochrome.

I’ve found that I get the best results when I shoot with monochrome in mind in the field.

Granted, there are times when I only realise an image’s potential when I’m sitting in front of the computer and processing it…but as with many things in nature photography – knowing what you want to achieve beforehand will make it easier to have satisfying results from the fruits of your labours.

When converting to monochrome, you need to pay attention to fine nuances of detail and texture, lighting and mood…and often tweak these liberally to achieve the desired end-result. Have a look at this image of a spotted hyena carrying a dry bone. I took this photo one morning in the Kruger National Park (Boyala waterhole in the far north for those who know Kruger).

It was overcast so there were no distinct shadows in the scene.

spotted_hyena_stroll_1_KNP_2011

I wanted to convey a starker mood here than the colour photo would allow – something sinister and ominous. So I took some time to thoughtfully process it in monochrome…

spotted_hyena_stroll_1a_KNP_2011

Here’s another example.

A herd of elephants, walking single file up a slope from the waterhole (also taken in the Kruger Park, incidentally, but more towards Satara at Girivana dam).

elephant_procession_1_KNP_2012

This scene was screaming for a “timeless” look & feel. So I tried to give it one…

elephant_procession_1a_KNP_2012

I hope I’ve inspired you to think more about what you photograph and why, and what your end-goal should be when post-processing your photos.

Have a super week!

Morkel Erasmus

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