Tag Archives: textile

Textile monochrome

Black and white photography captures the imagination. It distills a picture into shades of grey, into shadows and reflections. I often convert my favorite photos into black and white, to extract the essence and enjoy the underlying contrasts and colors in their most simplified form: shades of lightness and darkness.

I mentioned how much I love scarves in an earlier post, and here I integrate my love of the scarf and textiles, with 5 reasons why I also love monochrome:

1. Black and white is timeless

Our culture sees black and white as speaking of the past. It has connotations of history, of all things vintage, of reaching into a long lost memory. Somehow, black and white now makes a photo look ageless and timeless. That is a great quality.  And if you like history, black and white makes a photo even more beautiful because every moment in the present will someday be part of someone’s story and history.


Paisley Mountain

2. Contrast heightens impact

My favorite shots are often those with some contrast to highlight or heighten either an emotive response, or an aesthetically satisfying combination. The contrast of light and dark , shadow and brightness, is the ultimate. It makes an impact on the eye and the response to an image.


Scarf overload


Tassels in the middle

3. Color matching no longer matters

Not every color looks good together! Not every combination works. But when distilled into light and dark rather than colorful hues, then it no longer matters!



4. Composition is key

Related to matching colors; when we remove the element of color from the equation, the satisfaction we feel when we look at an image also becomes all about the composition. The movement. The placement. I love the below photo of a patterned silk scarf because the placement almost made it look like a wave. The curves and curling motion of the fabric reminded me of a whirlpool. Never mind that the scarf itself was super colorful, with purple, red, white and yellow – the placement and overlapping folds made it fun to look at even in b&w.


Charybdis, the textile whirlpool

5. Focus on texture

Just as composition becomes more important when a photo is stripped bare into monotone, so too the texture of the photo becomes valuable. Here texture is so visible because we are talking about fabric, textiles. But even with a landscape, or a portrait, the texture of the land or nature, or a face and skin, becomes heightened and a central part of the photo. I love that the creation and construction of the materials in the photo become more evident. Just look at the thin threads that you can see so much more clearly in the righthand scarf below…so beautifully textured!


Floral interruption

M xx


Scarf Symphony

Can you ever have too many scarves?  Not in my view!  This principle has been one of my guiding lights in life.  And I hear you thinking: what a ridiculous statement!  And maybe it is.  But all I can say is that scarves have been a great asset in my life.  Probably a lot more productive than many others, actually!  I buy them everywhere.  Each scarf in my wardrobe has a story.  Some share a bulk story, like the 10 scarves (or possibly more) I bargained hard for in the final hours of a Nepal trip with a great friend, huddled into a dark corner of a shop in Kathmandu.  I think our “street cred” was slightly damaged though when my friend B pulled out her amazing hot pink Visa credit card at the end of the negotiation (can you imagine!?)!

In any case, scarves are maybe one of the most sumptuous, beautiful of the female accessories. They keep me warm in winter, they add color to my wardrobe, they brighten up my room, they can serve as improvised Halloween costumes (seriously…”hippie” with a headscarf was my improvised costume when I arrived at a Halloween party after work last year, only to find that people actually take  fancy dress / themed parties seriously in the US!).  They can last a lifetime (unless you lose them when they fall out of your bag)!

In my obsessive stage of looking for abstract artworks and macro photography inspiration I literally pulled out some patterned scarves from recent travels, arranged them on my bed and started snapping away.  Funnily enough, the fact that I was doing it at about midnight on a school night, and was trying to keep the light down to avoid waking up my parents in the next room added to the mood lighting and shadow effects.  I highly recommend.

One of my favorites is the deep pink paisley patterned foulard that I picked up second hand at Le Puces markets in the north of Paris.  A silk number.  It never fails to feel stylish on me in the winter months tucked around my neck.



The below dark blue number was a long delicate scarf with gold / beige detailing that my cousin bought for me, I believe either from India or on one of her many trips to Indian fashion stores that she was so passionate about!



The above was actually a detail on my favorite vintage dresses from the 1950s that I bought at a wonderful vintage shop, Mint Condition, in Rozelle, Sydney. It made me feel so feminine and looked like a lolly pop in a dress.

The below was a beautiful silk scarf I bought from El Cortes, a big chain department store in Madrid. The colors reminded me of Spain – vibrant, crazy, passionate. I continue to wear it to this day.




M xx