Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Color contrast

I saw this isolated flowing tree along the canal path and wondered how it got there. I don't believe this to be a native plant, but rather a tree added to a landscape for ornamental purposes. Usually when you see an out of place flora it is because there was once a home there that has disappeared, but the plantings remain, however I cannot image there was ever a house here, at least for very many years.

This also struck me as an example of color contrast. It is a rule of thumb that good design should usually have both luminance value contrast as well as color value contrast. If I convert the image to black and white (well, shades of gray, i.e. monochrome) the tree almost completely disappears.
But of course, with digital editing tools a color image can easily adjusted to bring out monochromatic contrast... and the tree can be restored. However if this had been shot as monochrome (and depending on the color sensitivity of the film) the contrast adjustment would not be possible.
Still in this case I think I prefer the color version, even with the limited luminance contrast.

Sorry for the technical departure but it is fun to play with these things and uncover that which is not easily perceived by our eyes.


  1. Nice post and explanation. I like to play with post processing every now and then as well. I wish I had a better eye for identifying those scenes and images which would work very well in B&W.

  2. I like the second B&W conversion. I think I personally have a problem with Spring in that I become overwhelmed with all the fresh green growth and stop looking as critically as I should at the whole scene. I keep toying with the idea of "testing" myself with B&W.

  3. The color version is certainly striking but your second conversion effort is really very nice, too. Digital processing makes these decisions easier but it took a trained eye to determine what worked in black and white and what didn't.