Black and white photography

An homage to black and white nude photography, A. K. Nicholas employs a tonal alteration technique that goes beyond ordinary monochrome toning.

“Tonal alteration” is far from a straightforward photographic technique. Although very close to black and white photography, this process uses hints of warm and cool colors to set a mood. A. K. begins with a camera, then uses graphics processing. Although he transforms the colors with software, the process requires human input, often requiring several hours to achieve the desired effect in each part of a given image.

A. K. works with a stylus and tablet to apply color selectively across each image. The resulting toning often closely resembles monochrome techniques. When he was earning an art degree in college, he studied classic chemical processes applied to black and white fiber based papers. This inspired him to create images which resemble selenium, sepia, and platinum. Other techniques are reminiscent of early non-color images such as cyanotype, calotype or daguerreotype. A selection of two or more colors are mapped across the darks and lights of the image. To produce these digital compositions, he builds on his training in traditional wet-chemical film photography processing, toning, and tinting. He typically spends many hours further adjusting the intensity in select areas in this process that succeeds hand-painting.

A. K. removes color from an image to draw the viewer through the shapes and lines of the composition. A black and white artwork eliminates the distraction of color. Reducing an image to near-monochrome brings it closer to its abstract components–the heart of any artwork. A. K. adds subtle colors to the monochrome image to compel an emotional reaction. Unlike ordinary monochrome, these colors can be a combination of warm, cool, or neutral, and presented in varying intensity.

Viewing a (nearly) colorless image, free from the seductive spectrum of hues, is a more serious-feeling pursuit. It’s a contemporary twist on a timeless tradition. Black and white predates photography, with grisaille painting, printmaking, ink, and graphite drawings.


Black and white photography: shades of gray with no color.

Monochrome photography: Tones (light/dark) of a single color, in a single intensity.

Cool gray: A color close to neutral gray, with hints of blue, purple, or turquoise.

Warm gray: A color close to neutral gray, with hints of red, orange, or yellow.

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