White marble carving of an elephant and various people
Colour,  Sunday Stills,  Themed galleries

Gallery: does white exist?

White does not exist in nature

Pierre-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!

Huge white marble sculpture of group of soldiers

Sculpture of revolutionary fighters at the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery in Pyongyang, North Korea


Sideways view of a carved white kneeling figure

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Figures at Wat Langka temple and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

A carved white kneeling figure in front of a green hedge

Relief carving of cherubs with a goat

Detail of the stunning White Hall in Rundāle Palace, Latvia


Sideways view of white marble statue of a queen on a throne
White marble statue of a queen on a throne

The statue of a young Queen Victoria in front of Kensington Palace in Kensington Gardens, London


Tall white church against a blue sky
White statue of a bearded man

Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik, inspired by the landscape of Iceland, in particular the basalt formations


Elaborate white chimney against a blue sky

Chimneys on Farol Island in the Algarve

Elaborate white chimney against a blue sky

White handle-less cups

On a market stall in Jaipur; these cups are made from sugar and used in festival celebrations


Elderly man in white robes and turban

In the village of Misfat Al Abriyeen, Oman


Elderly man with white beard and turban

On the streets of Jodhpur; white robe, white turban, white beard


Man in white suit and hat with gold trims
Woman in white cloak with gold trim and white shawl

Posing for wedding photos in Holland Park, London


White bird with long legs and ruffled feathers

Egret on the beach at Kovalam, Kerala, India


Swan with its head tucked into its wing feathers

Swan at a rose farm in Bulgaria


Pelican perched on a dead branch against a pale sky

Pelican at Mandina Lodge in the Gambia

15 Comments

  • wetanddustyroads

    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 😊.

  • rosalieann37

    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.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      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!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      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 🙂

  • maristravels

    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!

  • margaret21

    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?

    • Sarah Wilkie

      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!

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