When you think about photographing flowers, you probably think about capturing their vibrant colors and how they contrast against the landscape around them. Most things in nature have evolved to blend in with their environment, but flowers have evolved to stand out from the crowd by displaying some of the most wonderful colors found in nature.
So, the thought of creating black and white images of flowers might sound crazy. But, it’s a great way to draw the viewer’s attention to other aspects of the flower. By de-emphasizing color, you move that emphasis to other things.
For example, consider the black and white photo above of a Desert Sunflower and compare it with a few color images of the same type of flower:
Notice how different things stand out in the different images. In the color images, the strong color contrast really grabs your attention. But, in the black and white image, the shadows in the flower and the white hairs on the stem stand out a lot more.
The different images also have very different feelings. The color images have more of a happy feeling, because of those bright colors and the contrast and because it makes you think of spring (generally, a happy thing for us humans!). But, the black and white image has a more neutral or maybe even a little sad feeling.
None of these three images is necessarily better than the rest, they’re just different. Each one says something different about the subject. And, as I’ve said a lot lately: how you photograph your subject should be driven by what you want to say about your subject.
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About the Author: Steve Berardi is a nature photographer, software engineer, and founder of PhotoNaturalist. You can usually find him hiking in the beautiful mountains and deserts of southern California.