Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Monochrome

In my youth, I learned darkroom skills using chemical processing for both black and white and color printing. I was a “color snob” always wanting color in my images and on my TVs. Now that I’ve gained some life experience, I’ve discovered that the absence of color is often an artistic statement about texture and mood. This week, Patti Moed suggested that we can share monochrome images, sepia images, single color images and images that feature a spot of color in a black-and-white world. You can check out Patti’s challenge post here. I’ve learned that not all color images work when converted to black-and-white. I occasionally just pull back the saturation on an image to get a feel for whether or not it has promise as a monochrome image. If I like what I see, I reach for Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 and start the conversion process in earnest. Every one of the images I share here were tweaked in Lightroom prior to being exported to Silver Efex Pro 2. The opening image features an elderly gentleman creating those curved clay roofing tiles like the one on his left side table. Those hands take on a story of their own when shown in monochrome.

An abandoned railroad bridge on the White Pass and Yukon Railway in Alaska deserves a sepia treatment. In my mind, that made the photo appear to be as old as the bridge.

Converting the image to remove the large amounts of blue in this view of the Alaska coastline’s Inside Passage adds drama to the sky and emphasizes the sun’s rays peeking through an opening in the clouds.

I haven’t published this photo before. It’s not truly a “monocolor”, as I left the warmer colors intact. The greens were reduced but not completely eliminated giving strong focus on the beauty of the orchid.

Old 353 at the Western Minnesota Steam Thresher’s Reunion near Rollag, Minnesota is one of my favorite color shots, but its conversion to black and white provides an extra level of drama to the sky. The detail in this HDR image in the undercarriage of the engine is worth getting a closer look. If your browser supports it, you can click on the image to enlarge it and see greater detail.

This image of draft horses at the Steam Threshers Reunion is my final submission for this challenge. It’s an image that looks fine in color, but I think the conversion to monochrome makes it a better image all around. Thanks again to Patti for allowing me to share some of my favorite black-and-white images.

John Steiner



  1. These are fabulous shots, John, that have great emotional power and wonderful details. The skies are amazing, as well as the man’s hands. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but your last shot really resonates with me.

  2. Excellent examples of the power of monochrome John. I remember the horses and really love them like this. The train is superb as is the gorgeous sun shining thru the clouds.

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