There is something uniquely timeless about monochrome or black and white photography. Even though we’re surrounded by colour – especially in a garden – there is nothing quite like black and white for capturing mood or highlighting graphic lines and shapes.
The sweeping curves of this levada in the Monte Palace Gardens, Madeira, immediately caught my eye last December and although I shot the image in colour (on a Fuji-X10 compact) I always knew that I would convert it to monochrome on my computer when I got back home.
The compositional shapes of the image are interesting, with the dominant curve leading your eye in a sweeping diagonal from top to bottom – or bottom to top. The curving lines of the railings and the pathway mirror the effect and the angular building, combined with soft lines of the sub-tropical vegetation, hold the image together.
The Monte Palace Gardens date back to the the Eighteenth Century and are ever so slightly crumbly round the edges. The sub-tropical climate has made its presence felt on the stonework of the buildings and multitude of statues and follies over the years and I wanted to preserve the ageing colonial mood that was conveyed to me at the time. After an initial LAB conversion plus a little dodge and burn in Adobe Photoshop I used an antique yellow preset in Nik Silver Efex Pro to bring out the timeless feel I was aiming for.
If you’re planning to visit Madeira the Monte Palace Gardens are one of the unmissable highlights, oozing with history and stocked with beautiful plants from around the island. Being sub-tropical they’re also very green, but as I’m talking ‘monochrome’ in this post I’ll save such colourful topics for another day.