Get it in black and white

On the evening of Monday 8th May members of the camera club were treated to a talk on The Creative Power of Monochrome by Simon Watkinson. Simon is an internationally renowned photographer Simon has had nearly 25 years of experience in professional photography. He features regularly in the national photographic magazines, having a regular column with Digital SLR User magazine. He is an experienced tutor running courses from his base in the Peak District including trips to Nepal, India, Myanmar etc. He concentrates on mood and atmosphere and gave a brief introduction to his work and style before starting the main subjects of the evening’s talk. He said he believed that monochrome can retain or bring out the magic of the image, as sometimes found in old photographs. Sometimes monochrome is useful when the colour information causes confusion and its removal simplifies the image and gives clarity. It can also be useful to emphasise patterns in (say) landscapes. All the while this was illustrated with some great images.

Simon then went on to give extensive examples of these ideas with images from places as far away as Nepal and as near as the Peak District. He showed that on a foggy day in a wood monochrome can be used to produce an atmospheric shot whereas colour may not work at all. Simon also liked the way in which monochrome can be used to create dramatic skies. All Simon’s images are converted from colour RAW images and took us through some examples of his workflow in Lightroom. He adjusted each of the colours to produce the monochrome effect he wanted. He may then put a slight tint on the whole image just to put on a finishing touch.

In the second half Simon showed examples of what could be achieved in portraits just using simple lighting, particularly backlighting. There were some wonderful images with just natural light form (say) a window and white walls. The we moved on to work with models to show how effective monochrome can be in these situations – and the images proved his point!

Simon then took us overseas as he particularly likes shooting for monochrome in such situations. There were wonderful shots from Nepal showing the character of the country, with particularly evocative shots from a visit shortly after the earthquake in April 2015. There were images from a further visit very recently and these monochrome images really conveyed the emotions and situation of the people. These were perfect examples of his earlier comment that monochrome removes distractions and draws the viewer into the image. Thanks Simon for a really stimulating evening.

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