Texture & Tone in Monochrome

The right lighting is vital for conveying the texture and defining the tone in monochrome pictures.

Strong side lighting on the subject will create the best emphasis of light and shadow.

Soft lighting will lead to a more subdued image with smaller tonal range:

  • Images with lots of dark tones are said to be “low-key”
  • Images with lots of light tones are said to be “high-key”


[Cycle Lane – with a predominance of dark tones in the picture, this is definitely a low-key image]

[Mist Over The Farm – even though this has a very bright sky, the images is more low-key than high-key, with the dark silhouettes in the foreground dominating the image]

[Grey Horizons – this is probably more high-key than low-key – there is a predominance of paler tones, with only a few darker shapes]

[And Let Thy Feet… with only one small area of black in the frame, this is a high-key image]

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