Is the rainforest a place of colour or black and white? Murray White would strongly suggest the latter.
"Many people could assume, quite reasonably, that rainforest and B&W capture would be a perfect match. Misty atmosphere, tormented lighting and a multitude of shapes seem to cry out for monochromatic treatment. Indeed, the very destinations that typify rainforests appear monochromatic in their basic settings, before an image is even created.
"Dense foliage is all-encompassing, from the moss underneath your feet to the towering canopies above. Linking structures tend to be shadowy, reducing the colour palette to one primary and overwhelming colour – green! Surely this is mono nirvana?
"Well, not necessarily and with the impressive results attributed to colour renditions, perhaps choosing a B&W conversion may be a backward step. Images rendered in colour can capture the often subtle changes in hue that go to make up the overall rainforest environment. I have learned that, unfortunately, this is not usually the case in B&W. Under subdued lighting, the existence of little, if any reflectivity variances, can render a monochrome capture as a murky rendition of what is actually a complex forest. In addition, the supporting patches of stronger colour, fungi, dead leaves and so on, are merged into the mid tones and effectively into visual oblivion. More direct lighting risks the creation of highly contrasted images and subsequent loss of some detail.
"The capability of monochrome falls short of its full potential, if you approach a rainforest as if it were just another landscape. However, by shooting selectively and applying some basic principles, it is possible to reclaim some photographic possibilities and plenty of satisfaction. By anticipating the conversion limitations, images can be found that literally shine as a B&W interpretation."
Read how Murray turns green into grey in the current issue of Better Photography (Issue 105). Click on the link below to subscribe - plus you get immediate access to 50 back issues full of informative material and inspirational ideas! Use coupon code BP40 to get 40% off - just $29.88 for an annual subscription.