The Art of Color and Light (Part 2)

(Part 2)

More Monochrome and a Little Color Accent Magic

Here we have a butterfly. I’ll not call her ordinary, because we can all see without a doubt that butterflies are extraordinary creatures. Their delicate beauty captivates even the hardest of hearts. The way they flit and float on the breeze and move from flower to flower drinking of the nectar and pollinating as they go. Without the lovely lepidoptera, we would likely have none of these blossoms to pick for our loved ones to smell and adore. The strength and perseverance it takes for this lovely creature simply to move through its life cycle is completely astonishing and worthy of notice. But how often do we take the time to notice the intricacy of their color patterns and ability to reflect light?

These magical creatures contain a vast array of color, but often we miss it because of the color of the flowers they feed on. So let’s let one of these beautifully disguised fairies stand out from the world we see. Perhaps then, we can catch a glimpse of their light and the fairy world that perhaps they slip in and out of.

This eye-catching specimen is called the Red Spotted Purple. I’m not certain as to how it gained this name as I see a blue-black butterfly with red-orange spots, but I suppose we all see color a little different. I often argued with my father on red versus orange and orange versus yellow. Perhaps when I was young, I should have invited my father to explore the 64-count crayon box with me with all its many shades (and today there are even more with incredibly more interesting names). Anyway, returning from the rabbit trail down memory lane, here’s the butterfly in all it’s natural beauty…

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Beautiful, aren’t they? A male and a female I think. We found them playing along the walking trail, dancing and flitting (and perhaps flirting) about. My husband was very patient and managed to get them to sit on his fingers, which made for some stunning photographs as you will see.

But first things first. I will start with the middle photograph. This one is more natural with the sunlight reflecting on the leaf beneath, and the butterfly’s shadow is cast just below its body. It also has a nice bokeh effect with the leaves blurred in the background. With this photograph, I was able to discover many of the details of these little fairies through altering the color and enhancing the light.

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First, I tried a true monochrome effect. This first photo reflects a low contrast black and white filter. In this photo the light in the background becomes more visible; however, the light reflected on the leaf beneath the butterfly is lost. You can also see how the light shines through the uppermost portion of the wings where they are most transparent.

This second photograph reflects a high-contrast black and white filter. With this filter the black veins in the wings and the black coloring on the body stands out more, but it is almost overpowered by the shadows in the background. The light reflected in the leaf and on the foremost antennae of the butterfly really pops, however.

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In the end, I discovered the selenium filter. It adds almost a bluish-gray contrast to the photograph, highlighting more of the silvers. It added a perfect blend to bring out the dark-colored veins without losing the reflection of light in the leaves, the antennae, and even the white spots.

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Then, just for good measure, I tried a sepia tone which was also very striking.

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These of course were presets in my editing program. My phone also has some interesting features in editing that allow different aspects of the photo to come alive. One of these is called selective color. You can go in and select a color to be accented, and the photo will be saved in black and white with only that color remaining. With this I was able to accent the oranges…

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Or the blues…

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But what if I want orange and blue? Can I make the butterfly stand out in it’s entirety against a background of black and white? Can I make it look as if this creature in all it’s beauty stands apart from the world we know as if it is from somewhere we do not see?

Then came the discovery of another aspect of my editing software…color saturation. I found that I could take out certain colors almost entirely and increase the intensity of the ones I wish to highlight. And here is the result…

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And now this lovely actress is the star of the show. Let’s give her a little more light shall we?

Well, we’ll save that for Part Three.