Sunsets at sea: Colour versus black & white photography

by | Mar 19, 2024 | Photography

In a world addicted to colour, it takes a bit of courage to photograph a sunset in black and white. Doing so can be tricky, but going off the beaten track has its rewards. The use of greyscale enables the photographer to show a different aspect of reality that has been hidden by colour. It is a challenge to both the eye and the mind.

To illustrate the point, I have selected three colour photographs of sunsets at sea. All are from the public domain. For comparison, I have converted them to black and white (with no other adjustments made) using Photofiltre.

This is a stunning photograph that fills the viewer with euphoria. The problem is that one can find so many other pictures like it. What is beautiful can become ordinary, run-of-the-mill.

Transposed to black & white, the photograph surprises with a dramatic view of a sunset at sea. Undistracted by colour, one can focus on the interplay of light and dark, the small ripples of the sea, and the overall mood of the picture.

The tree silhouetted against the setting sun and reflected on wet sand makes for a beautiful photograph. The dominant tones of blue and blue grey create a serene atmosphere.

The same photograph sans colour is just as beautiful but in a different way. The subtle gradation of light evokes a sense of calm as daylight gradually vanishes and night comes.

The soft glow of sunset envelopes the bridge to accentuate its graceful lines.

In black & white, the same photograph dons a minimalist look. The sensitive eye can see that it is sunset time by the luminosity in the lower region of the sky.

~ Barista Uno

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