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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Sustainable Prospects – Shoot Mod4#2 – Responding to Bruce Nauman Version 2 – Colour vs Monochrome

Figure 1: Sutherst. Colour versus monochrome. 2017

In much the same way as Nauman edited his images into tones of black and fluorescent yellowy green, I decided to trial different colourways to see if there would be any impact on the viewer’s experience.

One of the cropped images was edited into 4 different choices to enable them to be easily compared.

There are the obvious choices for edits in colour versus monochrome.  There is always a discussion amongst photographers as to which is preferable.  The colour version catches the viewer’s eye and draws them in, yet the viewer is likely to spend longer exploring the detail that is clearer in the monochrome version.

a 1970 by Bruce Nauman born 1941

Figure 2: Bruce Nauman. a. 1970

This is where my editing would normally end.  Nauman chose to manipulate the colours of his images to produce a holographic feel to the images.  My next step was to try to emulate this in my own way.

The first iteration (figure 3) of the edit was very yellow and the effect was overpowering.  I asked several friends what they thought of the image.  Comments centred predominantly on the brightness of the image and that it really should be toned down.

One viewer commented that they were totally perplexed about the colour choice and why I had chosen to carry out that edit.


Figure 3: Sutherst. Colour choice 3. 2017

I personally find the image fascinating, but too bright.  I chose to complete a final colour choice by editing the image further in Lightroom. The more subtle tones (only just) of figure 4 are much more intriguing and less of a shock to the eyes.

IAIN - Version 3-14

Figure 4: Sutherst. Colour Choice 4. 2017

The colour combination of this image has more of a holographic vibe to it than that experienced in the previous images.  The colour is not as jarring and really draws in the viewer.  I again showed this image to friends, who found this more intriguing and pleasant to view than figure 3. The colour combination messes with your mind more and leads the viewer to question what they are looking at and how it has been produced.  One of my viewers asked what process or software I had used to create the effect. They were surprised to find I had used nothing more than Lightroom and nothing speical.

The colour choice in figure 4 highlights the subject more and draws in the viewer.  Of all the colourways in this post, I consider this to be the most successful in supporting the ambiguity and 3D intent of the images.  I will develop the whole series of images in this way and post in my next post.


Figure 2: Tate. (2017). ‘a’, Bruce Nauman, 1970 | Tate. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Sep. 2017].

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