This week Monochrome Madness hosted by the Australian photographer Leanne Cole has a specific theme. It’s clouds.
Clouds are quite special. They bring structure in a dull gray sky or may pop out in bright white on a sunny day. When thinking of photographing clouds, you might think first of beautiful illuminated clouds at sunset. But, in monochrome there are way more situations for beautiful clouds. Have a look on a past post, when I compared a shot developed in color to the same shot in bw. Another kind of cloud-photography you can often find in fineart and architecture photography: long exposures.
For a better contrast, you should use a yellow-filter in front of your lens. This filter works on the color spectrum inside the natural ‘white’ light. The gray tones are moved (other colored filters would do the same, but working on different colors). That part of the light, that has the same color of the filter, is intensified (that means: becomes brighter), while the complement color is alleviated (which means: becomes darker). This effect is very welcomed in black-and-white photography to get a certain mood in the resulting image.
Back to our yellow filter. How does it work? Yellow becomes brighter, while blue becomes darker. So, white clouds pop out of a dark sky.
Why should you do this? Black-and-white film (and software, too, when not correcting this), get too bright skies without much structure. A quite dull image!
Other possible filters are colored in orange, green, red and blue. Each of them works on the mentioned color to brighten it and on the complementing color to darken it. Each of them has its certain field of work. The yellow filter, instead, is the most commonly used filter in landscape photography.
Although not photographers, you can find the effect also in movies by i.e. Alfred Hitchcock or Leni Riefenstahl.