Black and white photo of a hibiscus flower
Colombia,  Mid-week Monochrome,  Monochrome Madness,  Photographic techniques,  Travel galleries

Gallery: seeing Colombia in black and white

To see in colour is a delight for the eye but to see in black and white is a delight for the soul

Andri Cauldwell

Colombia is one of the most colourful countries I’ve ever visited, possibly the most colourful. So it seems counter-intuitive to present it in black and white. Yet however colourful the destination there are always likely to be at least a few images that I feel merit experimentation. Ones in which form dominates the composition. Ones with strong contrasts and patterns. And sometimes ones where colours are muted or dull. Yes, even in Colombia I found some (just a few) colours dull!

Sometimes too a photo that worked very well in colour can also be successful in black and white; yes, even a flower! My feature photo is an edit of an image I used last week in my ‘In the pink’ post. Despite its beautiful colours I felt the high contrasts in the shot lent themselves to experimentation in my favourite Silver Efex Pro software, and I was happy with this result.

I used the same software for all the images below, some of which may well appear in their colour versions in future posts about Colombia. Where I’ve already used those colour versions, I’ve included a link. Today however I’m sharing them for Bren’s Midweek Monochrome (link to be added) and Leanne’s Monochrome Madness challenges.

Ruined building on a bank above water

La Manuela Hacienda, Pablo Escobar’s former holiday home on the Reservoir El Peñol-Guatapé

I featured the same building from a different angle in one of my ‘postcards‘ from Colombia

Metal door handle shaped like two leaves on a stem

A door handle in Finlandia in Colombia’s coffee region

Lantern hanging by a door

A lamp on a house in Villa de Leyva

There is a colour version of this shot in my post about the town, ‘A stroll around Villa de Leyva

A lamp on a house in Cartagena’s old city

Wrought iron lamp on a whitewashed wall

High key image of a stone spiral staircase

A staircase in the Iglesia de San Pedro Claver, Cartagena

The Monumento a la Raza in central Medellín

Large curved monument with groups of figures along one edge

Large sculpture of a horse

In the Plaza Botero, Medellín

The colour version of this shot can be seen in my post about the work of Fernando Botero

The monument to Simon Bolivar at Puente de Boyacá, site of a famous battle in the struggle for Independence from Spain

Statue on a plinth surround by other statues of angels with trumpets

Tree trunk with buttresses

A tree in Tayrona National Park

Curved palm leaves against the sky

A palm tree at Cayena Beach Villas on the Caribbean coast

Weathered tree branches at the edge of the sea

Driftwood at Cayena Beach

Man in a straw hat on a bench, playing guitar

A street musician in Medellín

There’s a colour version on my Instagram account if you are interested

In Salento in the coffee region

Again, there’s a colour version on my Instagram account

Man in a straw hat

I visited Colombia in February 2023


  • Wind Kisses

    A more detailed look at Columbia in B&W. I like that you go back and forth to compare the differences. While I love the people shots, as I always do, the staircase sure creates curiosity.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      That staircase was beautiful and I knew it would end up as a black and white shot as soon as I saw it. The others can work both ways so I’m glad you enjoyed seeing the comparisons 🙂

  • Teresa

    I wouldn’t think that such a place like Colombia would be good in b&w…but it really is. Great job Sarah

  • wetanddustyroads

    I learned, by looking at your black & white photos, to see the finer details. Monts ago, my immediate reaction was: “No, I like the colour photo more” … but you convinced me that sometimes even a B&W photo can be more beautiful 😉. I really like the staircase and driftwood on the beach.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Wow, I’m really pleased if I’ve helped you to appreciate an additional style of photography 😮😊 I hope you’ll start to find more B&W images to enjoy!

  • Suzanne

    Stunning collection, Sarah, especially the first one of the flower. I am a big fan of black and white photography, it makes the subject stand out more without colour as a distraction. I have a few B&W photos on our lounge wall.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks so much Suzanne 😊 You’ve just proved how subjective this photography thing is! I too was happy with the flower, although I like it in colour too, but see the comment from Yvonne below – she isn’t keen on B&W for nature shots.

  • Rose

    The hibiscus, horse, and tree roots look so soft, I can hardly resist reaching out to touch them. The black and white effect seems to have softened those images, at least to my eye.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      That’s an interesting perspective, especially on the tree which I thought of a strong and very solid when I spotted it. Maybe as you say the B&W edit has softened it 🙂

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Kellye 😀 I loved that staircase – the balustrade felt so cool and smooth and I could just imagine the thousands of hands which have touched it over the centuries!

  • Yvonne Dumsday

    Maybe I need more colour in my life, during these current grey, black and white days of prolonged winter but I do prefer to see (nature especially) in its full glory.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      It’s great to see plenty of colour in the winter, I agree, but I also enjoy the way using monochrome brings out different aspects of a composition 🙂

  • margaret21

    This post came at just the right time for me, as the photo club I’ve just joined did a monochrome workshop last night. I’ve decided that, even though going to colourful Spain next week, I’m going to experiment far more with B/W, as the guy running the workshop, and you, have demonstrated how worthwhile it can be.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Oh yes, do experiment and share the results! I’m sure you were told this at the workshop but be sure to take the photos in colour and experiment later. It’s easy to turn colour shots into B&W ones but impossible to recreate the colours in a shot taken in B&W!

      • margaret21

        On the contrary, Sarah, he said the exact opposite. He said go out prepared to take B/W all day. Until you’ve done this, he said, you will not appreciate what sort of things work in b/w, and what don’t. He also said that the kind of filter adjustments you might make are different for colour or b/w. He certainly had some cracking images, and I learnt all kinds of things about my camera about which I’d been completely unaware. So pro-tem, I’m going to follow his advice – after all, I can switch easily enough if it’s not working for me, and there’s always my phone,

        • Sarah Wilkie

          Actually, that’s an interesting point. If you’re not used to ‘seeing in B&W’ it makes sense to go out expressly with that purpose and in that case you probably do need to set your camera on B&W so that what you see through the viewfinder is what you get. Once your eye is more used to assessing a scene the need to see it in B&W through the viewfinder becomes less and you can take it in colour even while knowing you’ll probably convert it, just in case you change your mind.

          Also, I don’t use filters on my camera (I can’t be bothered carrying them around) and I find the in-camera filter effects lack subtlety, so I prefer to experiment with filters in post-editing. My Silver Efex Pro software doesn’t just convert to B&W, it also has loads of filters – different colours, vignettes, film type, sepia etc.

          But yes, I think you have good advice from that workshop, at least as a starting point. Later you can decide on your preferred approach 🙂

Do share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you! And please include your name in case WP marks you 'anonymous' - thank you