Monday, February 25, 2013


I wonder why monochrome images are more appealing to me than color images. It may be the subject matter that I like works better in black & white than in color. Or it may be the tint (lack of color) that appeals. I'll have to do more investigation to discover which is true.

Life isn't black & white, but then neither are photographs. B&W photos are rarely just black and white. Most often they are many shades of gray. The  high tones, mid tones and low tones all work together, and often the most beautiful part of images are the mid tones. In the book I'm writing I talk about the extreme road and the middle road. I am a person on the middle road of life. I don't like the extremes. As much fun as it might be to scale mountains, I certainly don't want to be there all the time.

Likewise, a good photograph is comprised of mostly mid tones, with only small areas of extreme tones. So in a monochrome image, only the darkest shadows will be black and only the brightest highlights will be white. Everything else will shades of gray, spread across the full spectrum of tones.

A good monochrome image also has good contrast: not too much contrast, not too little. The histogram should be spread across the spectrum (on most images). (If you're unfamiliar with histograms, I'll let you find that education elsewhere. I'm not an expert.) Of course there are situations that will have spiked histograms, extreme images, but most images are much more varied in tonal range.

Life too needs contrast - not too much, not too little. To be a healthy person I need to have contrast in my life.

  • I can't be all about work, or all about leisure. 
  • I can't be all about friends and neglect my family. 
  • I can't be all about people I know and never seek out new friendships. 
  • I can't be all about satisfying my cravings and never exercise.
  • I can't be all about exercise and never indulge. Of course I really should be exercising more.
Monochrome images are not always black and white; that's just one one format for monochrome. Other images might be yellow and black, or red and black (with gradients of each). So even when 'restricted' by a category like Monochrome, there are still a lot of options.

In my life I often feel restricted by my situation and my health. But I'm discovering a lot of options are still available to me. There are a lot of gray areas in my life, and discovering new shades of opportunity can be exciting and scary..

Lastly, good monochrome images focus the viewer's attention on lines, highlights and shadows. The images often become less about subject matter (what the photo is of) and more about subject (what the photo is about). Rather than a photograph of a tree in a field of snow, it's an image of loneliness or isolation. Rather than an snapshot of a mountain range, the monochrome image becomes a portrait of nature's majesty.

Where does my life focus the viewer? I know where my attention is focused. I'm focused on seeking God's will for my life, living content with my circumstances, and seeking significance in every situation. But I'm not the viewer. My life is the monochrome photograph and other people see me.

What do they see?
What do you see when you look at my life?

Only you can answer that question.
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