Gallery: does white exist?
White does not exist in naturePierre-Auguste Renoir
Well, Renoir should know, and on reflection I think he’s right. Peer at a white flower and you’ll observe nuances of different shades. The same in a white sky, even a field of snow. Light and shade play tricks with the eyes and white turns to grey, to blue, to cream.
Perhaps that’s why, when I started to search my archives for ‘white’ images to share for this week’s Sunday Stills challenge, I found the purest whites in manmade objects. Yes, there were white birds and white flowers; but the whites that seemed to gleam the most brightly were the painted buildings, the carved marble statues, and the clothes worn to mark a special occasion or out of tradition.
Last time Terri asked us to focus on this colour I chose to feature a single subject, the stunning temple at Ranakpur in Rajasthan. This time around I’ve pulled together a gallery of images from my archives. In doing so I set myself two challenges within the challenge, as it were. To avoid flowers (too easy) and to avoid snow (too obvious). This is the result. A few birds crept into the mix (there could have been more; I love to photograph swans in particular). For the rest, all are man made and all are more or less white!
Sculpture of revolutionary fighters at the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery in Pyongyang, North Korea
Figures at Wat Langka temple and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Detail of the stunning White Hall in Rundāle Palace, Latvia
The statue of a young Queen Victoria in front of Kensington Palace in Kensington Gardens, London
Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik, inspired by the landscape of Iceland, in particular the basalt formations
Chimneys on Farol Island in the Algarve
On a market stall in Jaipur; these cups are made from sugar and used in festival celebrations
In the village of Misfat Al Abriyeen, Oman
On the streets of Jodhpur; white robe, white turban, white beard
Posing for wedding photos in Holland Park, London
Egret on the beach at Kovalam, Kerala, India
Swan at a rose farm in Bulgaria
Pelican at Mandina Lodge in the Gambia
All lovely images – wow, so many statues! Love the sugar cups in Jaipur, but the swan picture is definitely my favourite! And if you had a snowy one … that would be my favourite as well 😊.
Thank you again 😀 We had a weekend of snow last January which I confess I enjoyed photographing and sharing, but on the whole I’d rather do without it!!
For light – white is a combination of red, green and violet. But most of us don’t work with light. In painting we work with pigment. In paint if you combine red, blue and yellow, you get black which (if we were working with light) is the absence of color. White pigment in paint is frequently zinc or titanium dioxide – at least now. In the past it was lead which is why when you renovate old houses you have to worry about lead paint.
Yes, I’ve always found it interesting that mixing colours in light can create the opposite of what mixing colours in paint achieves. When you use the HEX colours on a website I believe black and white are the only ones that are denoted by the same character repeated six times (#ffffff for white, #000000 for black) which I find interesting too – the developers of that system must have recognised the uniqueness of those two shades which as you say are both really the absence of colour 🙂
Terri Webster Schrandt
Whaatt? No flowers or snow? LOL, I don’t blame you, Sarah, especially as well-traveled as you are. You obviously can dive deep into your archives for the beautiful images of places you’ve been to and share the architecture, people and culture that feature the color white. Of course I love the birds but the image of the sugar cups is stunning in its simplicity and composition. Awesome gallery!
Haha Terri, I know flowers and snow would have given me whites a-plenty! But tbh I don’t have many photos of snow apart from the ones from my area I shared already last January, and I ‘do’ flowers so often. I felt it was time for a change and for a bit of a mixed selection. Glad you liked them 🙂
Oh, the Places We See
I’ve heard that white is the absence of color, but it’s always stark enough, unique enough, that I do think it exists on its own. Love your shot of the egret!!!
Well as far as I’m concerned that is irrefutably Sarah 1 Renoir 0.
🤣🤣 @ Phil or possibly Michaela?
White exists for sure, but is it ever completely pure, in nature that is? The egret you love isn’t a uniform white, for instance!
Oh, the Places We See
Excellent points. You’ve made me think today.
Love them all but the old man “white robe, white turban, white beard” is favourite because of the way his eyes are looking straight to camera – one eye certainly is!
Thanks so much Mari. That shot was a bit of luck – it was a zoomed-in street shot but he looked at me at just the right moment 🙂
These are fabulous shots, though I am developing a sneaking fondness for that last one! My art teacher at school dismissed the possibility of true white or black ever existing in paintings, and indeed forbade us access to black paint. Maybe you should try black next?
Now there’s a thought! But maybe I’ll wait until Terri, or someone else, sets it as a challenge 😉 Glad you like that last shot, it’s rather a favourite of mine!