Monochrome Home (Peter Shirley)

From the first black and white photo, to today's modern photography, artists have tried to capture the raw nature of all things living and static. Landscape and architecture photography has a different, and sometimes more serene feel than portrait photography does. These photos were all taken between 1940 to 1964, in Brazil, England and France. Focusing on black and white photography allows the viewer to see shape,angle, contrast and many other elements clearly without the distraction of color. Following are examples of just that.

"St. Paul's Cathedral during the Blitz" was an image taken of the famous cathedral during the German Blitz on England in WWII. We see The top of the cathedral and the rest of the scene covered in smoke. The photographer uses emphasis very well in this image by capturing the smoke billowing around the top of St. Peter's allowing the viewer to focus on the cathedral, making it the main focus of the image.
In "Interior facade of the Sao Borja building" we are looking up from the base to the top of the building. The way that the photographer took this image gives the viewer a clear cut off from the sky, using the formal element line to define where the building ends, and the sky begins. By capturing the vertical interior lines and the crisp cut off of the roof, we are able to see great use of line in this image.
In this beautiful image we see a decorative iron fence on the side of the street that has a shadow cast on it which creates a great sense of balance. By standing at this angle we are able to see a mirrored shadow of the iron railing on the sidewalk. Because this photo is black and white our eyes are drawn to the shadow and the fence, instead of being distracted by colors or other things in the background. It makes this the main focus of the image.
The "Cathedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora" is a structure that has 16 leg like pillars that jut straight down and then curve at a slope to the ground. By taking the photo at this angle, the photographer showed the raw representation of repetition. The way that the legs seem to sprawl out in even spaces gives a sense of unity and balance to the structure. And by taking it in black and white we are able to see the shadows spread across the ground, giving it a greater sense of repetition.
In this photo we see the exposed beams of a building's structure before it was finished. By taking the photo in black and white we are able to get a better idea of the symmetrical translation being shown here. If the image was taken in color, we would have been distracted by the sky, or clouds. But since it was black and white, we focus on what is in front of our eyes. Line was also a heavy element utilized in this photo. Due to the fact that it is nothing but lines criss crossing each other. But done this way it gives great depth to the image.
In "Alvorada palace" we see a large building in front of a pool of water, with a smaller building off in the background. The photographer does a great job of representing proportion in this image by using the pool of water as a cornerstone for the foreground, we are able to see how large the building is behind it. Also, the reflections of the pillars in the pool gives us a greater sense of proportion for this massive building. Once again, by using black and white photography we focus on what the raw elements are here. The buildings, the pool of water and the reflection in said pool.
Here we see the National Congress building in Brazil. With a walkway leading up to the two towers in the background and the lower building in front of it. The photographer used line and contrast to draw the viewer's eyes towards the towers in the background. By doing this in black and white we retain the raw expression of this massive piece of architecture and the softness of the clouds. From the lines of the zigzagging walkway, the two towers in the back and the contrast that the clouds have, we are able to focus on what is right in front of our eyes without being distracted by the clouds in the sky.
In this image we see a boy standing next to a furnace. The furnace is grimy and worn which denotes age and use. Because of the absence of color in this black and white photograph the artist was able use the gradation from dark to light to show the texture of the building and the tattered clothing on the little boy very well. Instead of taking a wider angle shot, the photographer opted for a closer up image, which gives us a clear view of all of the texture in the furnace and the ground surrounding it.
Here we are looking up at the side of "The Departmend of Justice and Defense of Citizenship building." We see a street lamp off to the left and the facade of the building in front of us. By taking this in black and white we can focus on all of the bold lines that are laid out in the stonework of the side of the building. It utilizes the formal element line expertly, creating a unity and sense of size to this building that makes it feel larger than life.
Here we are looking down a long corridor. The farther down we look the darker it gets, yet there is light at the end of the corridor. By taking this photo in black and white we are able to focus on the raw elements of line and value. The lines of the floor and columns draw the eye down the corridor, which gets darker as it elongates. At the very end though we see light, denoting an opening. By utilizing these formal elements the artist has created an image devoid of distraction for the viewer.
Credits: All media
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