A few months ago, I wrote about seeing the world in monochrome with a brief comparison between colour and black and white photographs.

On a recent weekend, something caught my eye as I passed the Stad Brussel Atheneum Robert Catteau. It was a beautiful outline of green vines covering one of the windows at the school’s entrance.

I love the building’s elegant curves and grey stone exterior, which is Art Deco-ish with the fluid lines of Art Nouveau. Built in 1925, it was designed by François Malfait – a Belgian architect responsible for the Belgian pavilion at the 1913 World Exposition in Ghent, the columbarium in the Laeken cemetery and the Royal Theatre in Brussels Park.

I tip-toed as high as I could without losing my balance and raised my arms (and phone) about my head to take a picture through the dirty window. The first shot was crooked but one look and I knew that I was onto something special.

It took a few tentative taps on the iPhone before I captured something that wasn’t crooked AND had the desired level of exposure. At least I didn’t climb onto a makeshift ‘stage’ to take the photographs!

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

I love how the vine-covered window takes centre stage, flanked by the reflection of the street behind me and the unlit interiors. The grimy window enhances the mood of the image, giving a look reminiscent of old photographs shot on film. By chance, a cyclist passed behind me, appearing too in this layered image.

While adjusting the image on my phone using the vsco cam app, I decided to use a black and white filter to see how it would look. I loved it!

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

The black and white treatment exudes a distinct mood – one that is a little sombre, of something left behind. Whereas the colour version of the same picture has a light and ephemeral atmosphere.

What do you think?

Looking back and forth between these two images – I must have done this for more than 100 times (I can be a little obsessive like that) – I thought about an image showing the view from the rooftop of a low-rise building in Hong Kong. This is one of my favourite image from that trip.

I had taken the photographs in raw format with my Fuji x100, converted them using the Agfa AP25 film simulation in Raw Photo Processor before stitching two images together to create this.

Looking at this picture again after more than a year, I decided to increase its contrast in Photoshop to give it a grittier mood. I quite like it. What about you?

View from 5F, 22-24 Tai Ping Shan St., Sheung Wan08-9a25bw d

With this, I wish you goodnight and a brilliant weekend! Meanwhile, I shall attempt to resume editing more photographs 🙂




17 replies on “When Monochrome Says It Best: Brussels + Hong Kong

  1. I’m a big fan of gritty B&W. After all my monochrome shots I’m suddenly swinging back to colour. It must be the vibrance of Portugal. I understand the switching back and forth, trying to decide. I do it too. It’s difficult with your first shot. Both look good. Keep them both.

    1. I find HK to be quite a ‘colour-motivator’ though it also suits B&W very well. Probably the summer light in Portugal played a bit part too 🙂

  2. Well worth your experimentation. I like them all and have been inspired to be a little more creative with my own pics.

  3. Oooh, I don’t even know. I love the subtlety of the green but the black and white is so dramatic!

  4. I love b&w photography, this is what usually attracts me first… but there are exceptions like this where the green is such a wonderful, surprising addition – I’m just missing in on the b&w 🙂

  5. You pushed AP25 is better than anything I’ve achieved in monochrome i feel – when it comes to pushing / Moriyama look .. Thanks for the heads up with AP25 in RPP – never thought of processing to B&W there ..

    1. Thank you! Give it a shot with RPP – I love the contrasts that are produced. Though I adjusted it further in Photoshop for this photo in Hong Kong 🙂

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